World Bee Day 20th May – are we helping our pollen pals? World Bee Day 20th May – are we helping our pollen pals?

World Bee Day 20th May – are we helping our pollen pals?

Praise the pollinator 

I think it’s fair to say that we all have a vague understanding of the significance of bees, right? They fly from flower to flower feeding off nectar, gathering pollen which in turn sticks to their legs (sounds messy). As they go about their day, pollen grains get dropped onto the female part of the flower fertilising it. Although this is unintentional – after all they just want to make honey for the queen– I wonder if they realise the magnitude of the impact their buzzing about has for our earth? 

Not just flowers 

Did you know that bees pollenate 1 in 3 bites of our food? You heard me – the potato in your bangers and mash at the local pub was pollenated by a bee. Ever stopped to consider that your cotton clothes exist because a bee pollenated a cotton plant? Perhaps you use shea butter as part of your skin care routine, or perhaps you like sleeping on linen bed sheets? Next time you’re in a supermarket walking through the fruit and veg aisle, take a moment to know that none of this would be here, if it weren’t for the bee’s hard at work. It’s estimated that bee’s contribute value to the world economy, through their pollination of crops and plants. In the UK alone, the value of the crops the bees pollinate (with the help from other pollinators), is worth around £691 million a year. To put that into perspective, it would cost £1.8bn a year to employ humans to do the work instead...just as well they don’t send us their bill each month. 

 

 Dutch horticulture 

It’s true that around 50% of the world's flowers are produced in the Netherlands If you’ve ever visited, it’s no surprise it’s covered in their most popular seller - tulips. As of 2020 there were approximately 900 companies growing flowers in the Netherlands, that’s double on the year 2007. Impressive as their economic success is when it comes to flowers, have the Dutch growers stopped to consider the impact this might have on the bee population, and whether their industry is helping or hindering them? Many growers will use pesticides to reduce pests altering the outcome of their crop, but this negatively impacts pollinators and is thought to have declined their population as a result. The pesticides reduce the number of flowering plants available, but these chemicals also filter into the soil too. But is it all doom and gloom? 

 

Creating a buzz 

The Netherlands is certainly seeming to be taking action to combat any bee declination. Dotted around the cities you can find bee hotels - a little shelter for bees to reside and build their colony. Wildflower fields have popped up beside motorways and highways, aiding bees on their hunt for nectar in an ever-growing world of concrete. My favourite addition has to be the ‘bee stops’. Who would have thought that the roof of a bus stop would be the perfect little garden for a buzzy bee? These numerous little patches of solitude for bees are just another of the many ways in which the Dutch are aiming to help the bees thrive. Good for them, but are we behind on this in the UK? Brighton and Hove County is the first in the UK to replicate a bee bus stop, planting wildflowers and sedum plants for the bees to find. Fantastic news, but what else is the UK doing to help the bees? 

 

Where would we be(e) without them? 

According to a survey, bee population in the UK is declining. The honeybee has seen a decline of 45% since 2010, and three other species of bee are now extinct. For the second year running, the UK government have ignored their own scientific advisors and permitted the use of pesticide in the UK that is harmful to bees. To be clear, the pesticide was banned for this very reason, it’s bad for bees! The move comes after in 2014 the government launched a national pollinator strategy, outlining ways to combat the decline in bees in the UK, with a section specifically describing why pesticides are harmful to conserving bees. Seems a little contradictory don’t you think? At this stage we are 8 years into the 10-year plan laid out, and I’m asking you all to consider – have our efforts been in vain? 

 

Back to buzz-iness 

There are several charities within the UK and globally who are doing their bit to raise awareness and fundraise for their bee conservation projects. After a decade of work, The Bee Conservancy has expanded their work to protect bees globally, creating numerous bee sanctuaries in New York City alone. The British Bee Charity provide educational visits to youth groups, bee bombs for schools, and opportunities for those interested to become beekeepers and try it for free. If you’re feeling concerned about the UK’s bee population, get in touch with your local MP and make some noise. These wonderful creatures are vital to our world, and if we lose them, we lose an awful lot. 

 

Blooming Heck

 A friend of the bee is a friend of ours 

Blooming Heck is a friend of BloomLocal’s. Blooming Heck is a UK based card company, whose products are beneficial to pollinators. How so? Their cards are made with wildflower seeds, such as lavender, wild chamomile and corn poppy. Plant the biodegradable cards and watch them grow! Place your efforts outside to give your local bees a little botanical garden to enjoy. Easy and you can enjoy 10% off all cards and stock with code BLOOM10. Of course, there are other ways to help, take to your gardens and plant some bee-friendly flowers such as stocks, bluebells, lavender, mahonia and lots more! If you’re renovating your garden, stop and think before you pull up flowers, and think about how this might affect bees. There is an ongoing campaign in its second year advocating for #nomowmay, asking that we leave our lawns fresh and untidy, to encourage pollinator activity...it’s the perfect excuse to ignore the lawnmower! 

This post has been selected as part of Twinkl Pets campaign and is featured in the 'Why are Bees Important to Humans + How to Save Them' post.