Where have all the honey bees gone? The mystery of The Disappearing Honey Bees.
Bees are perhaps the most important creatures on the planet.
The simple fact is that the honey bees are disappearing worldwide, which is bad for us and bad for flowers, no one seems to know quite why they are going.
Most people know that the numbers of honey bees are diminishing worldwide, scientists are planning to tag two million of the insects in an effort to find out why hives are failing and some species of bees have even reached, or passed, the point of extinction in recent years. Many factors have contributed to this from pollution, pesticide use to loss of habitat. It’s not too late to try to reverse this situation and everyone can do their bit to help.
Why do we need bees anyway, well, the world needs pollinators, that’s a simple fact. Without pollinators we would have very few flowering plants, bushes or trees and even fewer fruits and vegetables. Up to 30% of the fruit and vegetables that we eat have been pollinated by bees, without them we simply wouldn’t have enough to eat. Bees are excellent pollinators and we must do everything possible to support and encourage them.
How to attract more bees into your garden or yard.
The most important thing to remember if you want to attract more bees into your garden is to not use pesticides. Pesticides kill indiscriminately and will rid your garden of all insect life, even the beneficial ones. Try to go as organic as possible.
Bees enter your garden in search of two things. Pollen and nectar. Pollen provides bees with essential fats and protein to keep them healthy. Nectar gives them energy as it is chock full of sugar. A healthy, energised bee will work hard pollinating all day.
Even the smallest garden or yard can be adapted to encourage more bees to visit. From a simple pot, or two, of bright flowering plants on a balcony to an area the size of a football field planted as a meadow. Try to set aside a small area of garden to go wild, allow the grass to grow long as this will attract voles and mice to nest in it.
Queen bees love to nest in old rodent nests. You can buy commercial bee homes and nesting boxes in most garden centres and many supermarkets now carry them too. They look quite attractive and it can be fascinating to watch the bees going to and fro carrying pollen back to the hive, an adult bumblebee can carry almost 60% of it’s body weight in pollen.
Wall hanging insect nest boxes are very good if you are short on space. They can be used on an outside wall even if you don't have a garden or yard. If you place them near a window you will still get the pleasure of seeing the residents come and go. These small boxes are very good for solitary bees.
Bees love a sunny sheltered spot, so plant a few bee friendly plants there first. It’s best to use a variety of flowering plants and group them together into large clusters. Bees have very good colour vision and so are attracted to bright colourful plants. They don’t, however, seem to like exotic plants as much as native ones, so try to plant mostly local flowers and trees, they will be a lot cheaper than the imported variety too, which is an added bonus.
Very often you can pick up packs of wildflower seeds at a reasonable price, they are very easy to grow and often require nothing more than scattering them on some rough ground. If you have any seeds left over share them with a friend or take them with you next time you go for a walk and spread them on grass verges and in hedgerows.
Plant flowers that bloom from early spring to late autumn. It’s not only colour that attract bees but movement and fragrance too, so try to plant a few tall flowers and some highly perfumed ones. Cornflowers, poppies and foxglove are excellent plants as they are colourful, tall and fragrant. They attract not only bees but butterflies too
Pansies flower for almost the whole year.
Colony collapse disorder, one possible reason for the disappearing bees.
A pot of basil placed near strawberry plants will increase the yeild of fruit.
Plant a herb box.
If you don’t have the room or simply don’t want too many flowers in your garden why not plant up a herb box. The bees will love it and you will have something useful, tasty and healthy to use.
Chives, thyme, wild basil, rosemary, marjoram, oregano and apple mint are just some of the herbs that will attract bees and are all easy to grow and have a great many culinary uses.
Some herbs can also repel pests and help to encourage growth in other plants.
If you grow your own strawberries try planting basil in the same place to encourage pollination and to increase the crop yield of the strawberry plants.
Most herbs will flower if you leave some unpicked and flowereheads from chives are a wonderful colourful addition to salads, simply pick a few heads and scatter them over your food. You can also use the flowers that appear on rosemary plants.
A saucer of water provides a welcome drink for thirsty bees.
Bees need water too.
Don’t forget to put out a small amount of water for bees too, a shallow plate or saucer is perfect for this as bees are too small to drink from ponds or water features.
This is a good daily job to give the children of the house, which will encourage the next generation to care for our bees too.
Get the kids to plant sunflower seeds in pots and then transplant them to the garden, bees love sunflowers and kids seem to love growing them.
If we look after the bees they will continue to help look after us.
Have you noticed a reduction in the numbers of bees visiting your garden?
Read my hub for tips on creating an interesting and productive garden on a shoestring.
- How to make an interesting garden for next to nothing.
Flowers grown from seeds I love gardening but I never seem to have much spare cash left to spend on it, so Ive had to be creative and come up with ways to make an interesting garden for next to nothing. ...