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The plight of the bumblebee

Updated on April 7, 2013

Bees on Lavender

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live."- Albert Einstein.
If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live."- Albert Einstein.

Bee afraid, bee very afraid.

"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live."- Albert Einstein.  Incredible to think that the fate of mankind lies in the hands of a small insect that no-one notices or cares about. Does the bee really matter that much or was Albert Einstein just saying this for affect?  Perhaps he owned the world’s biggest honey farm and wanted people to know it.  Well the simple fact is that without the bee the crops of the world would fail.  Any crop which is produced from blossom would no longer produce fruit. That’s every fruit tree, vine, fruit bush and bean.  Leaving us with root crops only.  So, that isn’t going to happen I hear you cry, well Bumblebees are in danger in most developed countries due to destruction of their natural habitat, hedgerows, and the widespread use of pesticides which have destroyed many of the wildflowers. In the United Kingdom, until relatively recently, 19 species of native true bumblebee were recognized. Three have now become extinct and eight are in serious decline. Even a decline in bumblebee numbers would cause large-scale sweeping changes to the countryside, leading to inadequate pollination of plants, which of course will affect everyone.  Gardens will deteriate, crops fail, food prices rise and wildflowers would die out. Frightening, but it may not be too late if we act now.

 

Bee careful

Bumblebees are in danger in most developed countries due to destruction of their natural habitat, hedgerows, and the widespread use of pesticides which have destroyed many of the wildflowers. In the United Kingdom,
Bumblebees are in danger in most developed countries due to destruction of their natural habitat, hedgerows, and the widespread use of pesticides which have destroyed many of the wildflowers. In the United Kingdom,

Borrage

Native plants are usually best for native bees,
Native plants are usually best for native bees,

Bee thoughtful

So what can we do? The answer is quite a lot especially if you have a garden. Doesn’t matter where in the world you are the bees in your area will need native plants to thrive, so plant some. To help bees you should provide a range of plants that will offer a succession of flowers, and thus pollen and nectar, through the whole growing season. Even a small area planted with good flowers will be beneficial for local bees, because each patch will add to the mosaic of habitat available to bees. Native plants are usually best for native bees, and can be used in both wild areas and gardens. There are also many garden plants—particularly older, heirloom varieties of perennials and herbs—that are good sources of nectar or pollen. Together with native plants, these will make a garden attractive to both pollinators and people. Include flowers of different shapes. There are four thousand different species of bees in North America, and they are all different sizes, have different tongue lengths, and will feed on different shaped flowers. Consequently, providing a range of flower shapes means more bees can benefit. Have a diversity of plants flowering all season. Most bee species are generalists, feeding on a range of plants through their life cycle. By having several plant species flowering at once, and a sequence of plants flowering through spring, summer, and fall, you can support a range of bee species that fly at different times of the season. Chose several colors of flowers. Bees have good color vision to help them find flowers and the nectar and pollen they offer. Flower colors that particularly attract bees are blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow. Plant where bees will visit. Bees favor sunny spots over shade and need some shelter from strong winds. Plants that I have found attracts bees are Lavender, Fox Gloves Lupins, Buddleia, Geraniums, Aquilegia, Sedum, Autumn Joy and Borrage. The only thing I would say about Borrage is that its hairy stems can bring some people out in an allergy so plant it in an isolated area. Don’t forget use pesticides sparingly. Those based on fatty acids or plant oils and extracts pose little danger to bees but will not control all pests. Avoid spraying open flowers and if possible do spraying in the evening when bees are less active.


Amazing video of bees

Aquilegia or granny's bonnets

Bee and bee

When you have provided your bees with breakfast they will need a bed.  There are 2 main types of accommodation you can offer bees.  Solitary and nests.  Providing homes for solitary bees is simple assome will nest in hollow stems, such as bamboo canes or herbaceous plant stems. Hole diameters in the range 2-8mm (up to 1/4in) are required. Cardboard nest tubes can be bought in garden centers. Holes 2-8mm (up to 1/4in) diameter can be drilled in fence posts or logs. Place these nest sites in sunny positions. Some solitary bees nest in the ground, either in bare soil or short turf. They will find their own nest sites, so tolerate the small mounds of soil deposited by the female bees when they excavate their nest tunnels. Bumblebee nest boxes can be purchased but they are often ignored by queen bumblebees. They prefer to find their own nest sites down tunnels dug by mice or in grass tussocks. Or if you are a posh type how about a Hotel for your guests.

 

Comments

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    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks for the comment pddm67 and I'll link to your hub. thanks again

    • pddm67 profile image

      pddm67 

      8 years ago from Queens, New York

      It's so sad that their population is declining. I will be including bee friendly plants & flowers in my garden this year. I have a hub about honey with a small section on the honeybee - I'm going to post a link to your hub on there. Rock on!

    • Paul Scanlon profile image

      Paul Scanlon 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      Thanks for a great hub. Its easy to forget how balanced life can be - event the smallest of creatures have their place.

      I won't be swotting any more bees with a rolled up newspaper now :-)

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks guys for the comments,indigenous plants are the way to go in gardens. Not only for bees but for many insects.I would love to be linked to your hub 2uesday as they are so informative. Again thanks for reading tonymac04,Jerilee and 2uesday.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Great Hub - thanks for sharing. As one who kept bees some years ago I am very sensitive to their well-being. I try to have a good variety of indigenous plants in my garden for the bees but also for the health of our world. Indigenous plants are very important for the whole ecosystem and they have many advantages over exotics. An idigenhous, organic lifestyle is very helpful and healthful.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      8 years ago from United States

      Glad to know that someone else is as worried about bees (of all varieties) as I am.

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 

      8 years ago

      Hi jayjay great hub,I too worry about the bees. I have a hub on plants that bees like, ideas for what gardeners can plant for bees. I will add a link to this one as you explain aspects of the bees' situation in greater detail. Hope that is OK with you - if not let me know. Thank you for this hub, without bees I would have no plums, raspberries or strawberries and we would all be in trouble.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thank you for the comment. I think the falling number of native bees is very worrying. I am so glad someone read this hub

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 

      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Excellent informative hub which I enjoyed reading . Thank you for bringing it to the attention of fellow hubbers. native plants are as you say important to native bees.

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