Bumblebees are well-known for their role in pollination, as gardeners have known for a long time. These free-roaming wild bees are iconic, fascinating creatures that provide a crucial “free-bee” service in pollinating much of the food on our plates, plants in our gardens and wildflowers, fruits and seeds for birds and small animals. They function as an important environmental indicator while demonstrating a further decline in numbers and distribution.
The 24 species of bumblebee found in the United Kingdom represent about 10% of the world’s bumblebees. Two species have gone extinct in the last 100 years, and eight of our remaining ten species are in serious decline, including the Shrill carder bee, which is now restricted to a few sites in England and Wales, and the magnificent Great Yellow bumblebee, which was formerly common but is now only located in Scotland’s far north.
What makes bumblebees so special? They are highly efficient and effective wild pollinators of 70% of the 100-crop species that provide 90% of food worldwide. They do not produce honey, (harvestable quantities) beeswax, or live in hives, unlike honey bees. A bumblebee nest will contain between 50 and 400 bees, whereas a honey bee colony may have up to 60,000 bees.
How Can We Help Bees In The UK?
There are several things you can do to help bees in the United Kingdom. You don’t need to be David Attenborough or Jeff Goldblum to lend a hand! First and foremost, you must remember:
- You can buy local products, which will benefit your community. Because the majority of these food crops are produced without pesticides or other chemicals, buying food from the UK helps guarantee that honey bees have a clean environment.
- You may grow bee-friendly flowers in your garden or yard! Bees adore vibrant colours and require pollen and nectar from flowering plants, so try to include as many different kinds of flowers as possible in your yard or garden during the spring when bumblebees are active.
- If you don’t live in a location where there are any wild spaces for them, consider establishing managed hives with honeybees on top! These insects really struggle when moved around by humans, so if we leave some areas untouched over time, their populations may actually increase rather than decrease.
- Provide shelter for bees – Bees, like other invertebrates, require a secure resting place to lay eggs and hibernate. You may make your own shelter or buy a pre-manufactured bee hotel – simply hang it in the sun on a sunny, shaded area in your yard and watch honey bees crawl into the tubes throughout the spring and summer seasons.
- Don’t Use Pesticides – You may stop using pesticides in your garden! Making this simple adjustment will help bees and other insects live a better life. If you want to assist preserve bees, the best choice is to let them be maintained naturally since pests that consume certain wild plants may also serve as food for crucial pollinators.