The bees of Britain need our help. The loss of their natural habitat means they are dying out fast — in the past 60 years U.K. bees have lost 97 percent of their grassland homes and 20 U.K. bee species are already extinct. But thanks to Friends of the Earth we can all help to save our bees.
Bees provide an incredible free service by pollinating 75 percent of our crops worldwide, including apples, strawberries and tomatoes. If we didn’t have bees U.K. farmers would have to pay £1.8 billion a year more to pollinate crops by hand.
The Friends of the Earth Bee Cause is campaigning to improve the prospects for British bees. In November 2014 the U.K. government launched the Bee Action Plan (official name the National Pollinator Strategy), which promises planning guidance to local authorities about helping bees, greater emphasis on the importance of protecting wildflower meadows and acknowledges the need to minimise the risk of pesticides.
Video credit: Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)/YouTube
Many local authorities are creating habitat for bees on council-owned land, such as parks and other green spaces. Leicester City Council has created wildflower areas in the city’s parks and a special Bee World wildflower meadow with Leicester Friends of the Earth, giving residents 10,000 sample packs of wildflower seeds to sow in their gardens and local primary schools seeds for sowing in their grounds.
Several U.K. councils are also reducing their use of pesticides, especially neonicotinoids which are known to be particularly harmful to bees, and taking measures to help bees thrive in new developments, such as Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, which requests that developers plant tree species that benefit pollinators.
However there’s still a lot of work to be done. Friends of the Earth wants the government to provide support to all farmers to help save bees and rule out pesticides that threaten pollinators.
So, if you care about our native bees, here’s what you can do to help protect them:
- Take part in the Great British Bee Count. Download the free app and use it to record every time you spot a bee in May: in your garden, allotment or local park.
- Take a photograph of each bee you see and upload it to the app. This helps bee experts identify the bees and compile statistics on the numbers of bee species. Oh and try to photograph the bee’s bottom — apparently this is the easiest way to identify what type it is.
- Donate to the Friends of the Earth Bee Cause and receive your own Bee Saver Kit, which includes wildflower seeds and a guide to identifying the bees you see.
- Create a Bee & Bee (a bed and breakfast for bees) with the nesting space, food and water bees need to thrive.