Bumble BeeRetirement home
THE BUMBLEBEE RETIREMENT HOME
Bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. A recent study showed that a quarter of all known bee species haven’t been seen in 30 years. The bees that are left have had their work cut out for them, pollinating over 5,000 plants every day of their lives. Phew.
As flower fans we wanted to shout about the plight of bees, to raise awareness of how vital they are and to encourage everyone to take steps to protect them. So naturally we thought – a bumblebee retirement home!
MEET THE WORLD’S OABEES
To draw attention to our hard-working bees, we made a special home for some beautiful bumbles to get some R&R. It featured some of their favourite things – a sugar water fountain and areas full of blooms bursting with pollen. We even popped in some zzzimmer frames (though given that they beat their wings around 240 times a second, we’re not sure they needed them!) Of course, no bee home would be complete without royal quarters.
Like honeybees, bumblebees also have a queen whose job it is to lay eggs and keep the colony thriving – and given she’s royalty she deserves the very best.
Our lovely residents were chaperoned by an expert beekeeper who kept a close eye on them to make sure they enjoyed their stay.
ALL ABOUT BRILLIANT BEES
There are around 270 species of bee in the UK, ranging from the little carder bee to the hefty buff-tailed bumble bee. The majority of these (about 250 species) are solitary bees – these are bees that don’t usually live in colonies (the clue is in the name). Unlike bumblebees or honeybees, solitary bees keep to themselves, and nest in all sorts of weird and wonderful places – even snail shells!
Despite not being in the bustle of a colony, solitary bees are some of our hardest working pollinators. They distribute lots more pollen when they fly, a red mason bee can pollinate 120 times more flora than a honeybee.
Like lots of UK wildlife, bees travel to find food and nest sites, but with the disappearance of wild flower meadows the flowers and habitats bees need can be hard to come by. One ingenious solution are ‘B-lines’, interconnected wild spaces across the country for bees to travel across, sort of like an insect motorway. Have you been hearing lots of buzzing? Maybe you live on a B-line!
WHY BOTHER ABOUT BEES?
You know that little thing we all like…food? Well without bees we wouldn’t have much! According to Greenpeace we have a bee to thank for every one in three bites of food we eat. It’s all because bees spread the pollen from plant to plant, causing fruit, crops and flowers to grow.
No bees = no dinner! By helping plants to grow, bees also help maintain habitats for all sorts of other animals. And of course, bees pollinate beautiful blooms, so we can thank them for our lovely flowers too.
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE BEES
We can all do our bit to help the bees (you don’t need to make an entire bee-tirement home!) If you have a little bit of green space, there’s a few simple steps you can take to help get things buzzing.
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE BEES
Follow these simple steps
Open a bee hotel
These nifty hotels provide much-needed shelter for solitary bees. You can buy one, or if you’re feeling crafty you can use bamboo, or other hollow wooden tubes to build one. You’d be surprised how many bee-sized spaces you can pack in! Check out this guide from the Woodland Trust to making your very own bee hotel.
Plant flowers that bees love
Not all flowers are right for bees. When choosing your blooms opt for varieties with open flowers (so that you can see the central part of the flower) this will mean that the bees can easily access the pollen and nectar. Bees can also see the colour purple much better than any other colour, so lavender, alliums, and catmint are all great for a bee-friendly garden.
For more advice, check out our list of the 10 best plants for bees.
Ditch the chemicals
Most pesticides and fertilisers kill bees. In fact, the global decline in bees is partly due to our overuse of agricultural pesticides, especially neonicotinoids which harm all sorts of wildlife. Ditching the chemicals in your garden will help bees and other pollinators, and in turn other wildlife. If you’re worried about a tidal wave of ‘pests’, don’t panic, natural predators should arrive to help you. Find out more about pesticide free gardening.
Make a bee bath
Yup, bees need baths too! You can set up a little pool in your garden or on your balcony to help our flying friends stay hydrated. Bees will use water to dilute honey, to help with digestion, to keep the hive cool, and to feed the next generation of their colony. They’re simple to make, and help all kinds of bees.
Bee an advocate
We’re proud to shout about brilliant bees, not only are they marvels of nature but without them we would have no beautiful flowers to give our loved ones. They are a vital part of our delicate ecosystem, and we can never forget that. So if you want to help bees and our other pollinators, spread the word!