This week (18th – 24th July) is Bees’ Needs Week, an annual event coordinated by DEFRA. The UK Government are working alongside charities, businesses and conversation groups as well as academic institutions such as universities to raise awareness of bees and other pollinators. These creatures are vital for our ecosystem, ensuring our crops can grow and enabling plants to flourish in our parks and gardens.
According to new research, published by the University of Reading, crops which are visited by pollinators such as butterflies and bees produce more stable yields. The research demonstrates that crops visited by pollinators have 32% less variation in yield compared to those grown in the absence of pollinators.
It’s well known that pollinators such as bees, butterflieds and moths are under threat. They’re facing challenges caused by destruction of habitat, pests, disease and climate change. In light of this, Bees’ Needs Week is highlighting 5 simple actions everyone can get involved with in order to help protect pollinators.
How to Help Pollinators Thrive in Your Garden
Growing More Flowers, Shrubs and Trees
Whether you have room to plant an orchard, a just enough space for a window box or hanging basket, every little helps! Creating bee and pollinator-friendly gardens is easier, cheaper and quicker than you might think.
Most garden centres stock a range of bee and pollinator-friendly plants – often identified by a ‘bee friendly’ logo. Why treat your garden to a bit of an upgrade this weekend? Planting a selection of pollen-rich plants can make all the difference. And if you’ve got room for something like a buddleja (otherwise known as a butterfly bush) – so much the better!
Letting Your Garden Grow Wild
Another easy way to make your garden more hospitable to bees and butterflies is to let it grow wild. Allowing grass to grow long and bushes, shrubs and trees to grow undisturbed can help protect nesting and hibernation spots.
Also, although we might not like the look of them and some can be quite invasive, weeds such as daisys, clover and dandelions are fantastic sources of pollen, which pollinators depend on for food. Rather than being a lazy thing to do, letting your garden grow wild is actually great for the environment!
Cutting Your Grass Less Often
Similarly to the previous recommendation, cutting your grass less often can help your garden be more pollinator-friendly.
Avoiding Disturbing Insect Nest and Hibernation Spots
If you’re aware that there are bees or butterflies nesting in your garden somewhere, please avoid disturbing them. Creepy crawlies often make homes in piles of old logs, in gaps in walls, behind and beneath sheds and in other sheltered locations. It can be tempting to try and ‘tidy up’ all these areas, but a garden which is too well-kept can be difficult for bees and bugs to live in.
In our recent post ‘How to Make a Bee Friendly Garden‘ we looked at other ways to be welcoming to wildlife – including making nest for bees to hibernate it. Check it out for more ideas.
Thinking Carefully About Using Any Kind of Pesticide or Garden Chemical
Finally, it’s important to think carefully about using any kind of chemical in your garden – especially pesticides. These are not bee friendly, and although some gardens have problems with pests, using chemicals to keep them under control can be very damaging to the ecosystem. if you’ve got a pest problem look for natural solutions, and avoid things like chemical weed killers too.
Monitoring insect life in your local area is a great way to help scientists understand how the populations of pollinators vary around the country. The Pollinator Monitoring Scheme is a ground-breaking scheme collecting data on the abundance of bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects. They are collecting data on a national scale and anyone can get involed.
Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England said:
Pollinators are a crucial part of a healthy environment which we all depend on. There are many things we can do to help them thrive, from getting involved in monitoring their numbers to leaving any outdoor space we have to flourish. Collectively, even small actions all help pollinators do the job we need them to.
- Marian Spain
BeeVital Encourages the Creation of Pollinator-Friendly Spaces
At BeeVital we want to encourage as many as possible to get behind this important scheme. Protecting our pollinator populations is vital for the health of our ecosystem. And we can all play our part. From planting bee-friendly window boxes and hanging baskets, to growing more fruit trees and allowing parks, gardens and green spaces to grow wild. It’s actually easier than you might think to help protect these vital species!