Save The Bumblebees!
Due to changes in agricultural practices, Bumblebees are in rapid decline. With vastly fewer flowers in our landscape, the bees are left with little to feed upon. Since 1940, 2 species of bees have become entirely extinct and many other species look to be heading that way, so now is the time to do something about it and save these wonderful little creatures.
It is estimated that 97%of our flower-rich landscape has been lost since 1930, so it is unsurprising that our bumblebee population suffering. Two species that are at the highest risk of extinction are Great Yellow Bumblebee and the Shrill Carder Bee.
Why are bees so vital?
Bees among other insects, are estimated to contribute around £400 million per year to the UK economy through the pollination of commercial crops for example apples and tomatoes and without these excellent pollinators, far more costly methods of pollination would be used, making our fruit and veg prices rocket. More importantly, if bees are not around to pollinate the wild flowers and allowing them to reproduce, this will cause a catastrophic knock on effect for the whole of the food chain.
Luckily, it is not too late – there is still a lot we can do to save the bumblebees! British gardens cover about 1 million acres of land, so the more people with bee friendly gardens, the better the chance our bee friends stand of having a successful future. The best way you can help, is by ensuring your garden is flowering from spring right through until the end of summer, so that bees have a good supply right through all the crucial stages:
When the queens are establishing nests
When the nests are growing
When nests are producing new queens and males
When queens are preparing for hibernation.
Certain flowers, however, are almost useless to bees because they are so low in pollen and nectar, for example pansies. This is a result of selective breeding. Also some flowers are not bee-friendly because the shapes are difficult for bees to get into, for example long tunnel shaped petals that are too small for the bees, or flowers with lots of small tightly packed heads that leave very little accessible food for the bees. Ideal flowers to attract and nourish bumblebees are foxgloves, wild roses, geraniums and lavender.
As well as doing your bit in your own garden, you can also help by supporting the Bumblebee conservation trust to raise awareness in the public, by joining the trust, fundraising or volunteering.