I don’t know about you, but the ‘Save The Bees’ initiative has been ongoing, prominent and in-ya-face for the past few years.
I know that bees are at risk…
But what are they at risk of? What’s the message that this campaign wants to convey?
When I really think about it, the high-profile ‘Save The Bees’ campaign indicates that bees are endangered, that there is perhaps a significant decrease in the bee population, and they’ll become extinct if we don’t ‘save’ them.
Perhaps due to a lack of transparent education on the topic, or blurry campaign messaging, this understanding is not entirely accurate. There are an estimated 274k honey bee hives in the UK alone; and due to the rise in trendy urban bee-keeping, London has a higher density of honey bees than anywhere else in the country.
The real issue? They’re hungry.
Last week I spent an evening learning all about the sustainability of bees and beekeeping with the incredibly welcoming and knowledgeable founders of Bermondsey Bees. I also ate my own body weight in sticky, gooey, delicious honey.
Instead of making your mouth water with an in-depth cutesy review of the honey tasting we did with Bermondsey Bee’s resident sommelier, I want to use this blog post as an informative, myth-debunking, useful guide to help anybody with an interest in actually saving the little guys out there.
The main factor for honey bee decline in the UK comes down to limited forage availability and a restriction on nutritional intake.
When the official bee keeping association delivers its annual report on bee figures it’s typically around the Winter months. As such, the natural decline in bee life around this time sparks huge misinterpretation by the media and portrays an image that honey bees are endangered. The truth is that the decline over winter is replaced in good summers once the sun is shining and the conditions are better.
To aid the life of the honey bee, we must separate the fact from the fiction and then reset our understanding of how we can help.
What can you do?
Honey bees forage flowers rich in nectar and pollen. Nectar contains sugar they need for energy. By planting/potting the right types of plants and trees, we can provide a banquet of forage for them which will therefore help sustain the hundreds of thousands of colonies in the UK.
Whether you have an apartment balcony, a luscious allotment, or a window ledge, with the correct education we can all be resourceful.
A few plants that honey bees love
Lavender: I love Lavender so much – and I grew mine in pots this year. They smell glorious, have a fantastic colouring and are super easy to get from most garden centres.
Cosmos: Super easy to grow, and these are edible for humans too. They look pretty on top of a delicate dessert or cake.
Hellebore species and hybrids: Christmas Roses and Lenten Roses are popular.
Salvia species: Sage is a great option because this doubles as a fantastic herb for cooking with too!
Echinacea: These look a bit like daisies – and some varieties (like coneflowers) can be grown in pots.
Rudbeckia laciniata: Again, these are like daisies. Really pretty, and can be grown in pots.
Galanthus nivalis: Also known as a ‘snowdrop’, a vital source for pollen and nectar!
As well as these few simple suggestions, there’s a plethora of information online – just make sure you choose a reputable source!
Additionally, you could get your hands on an official Bermondsey Bee’s booklet which articulates the work they do for bee sustainability and tips on planting for bees!