I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about bees lately, and watching them in our garden.
I’ve known about the essential role these incredible little creatures play in pollination and planetary wellbeing for some time, and am aware that bees and other pollinators are in decline all over the world from threats including habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.
A large number of the vegetables, fruits and other crops that we rely on to stay healthy need to be fertilised through pollination.
According to The Wildlife Trusts, every third mouthful we eat depends on pollination taking place.
The most effective pollinator of all is generally the bee, who is able to carry more pollen and visit more flowers than others.
Essentially, bees help preserve the ecosystem and biodiversity, the foundations of human health.
Attracting bees and other pollinators has been a factor in our garden choices for many years.
We make sure to include lavender, foxgloves and rosemary, and are lucky to always have an abundance of bluebells in late spring.
A quick internet search will help you to find other bee friendly and beautiful looking plants that are easy to grow including borage and oxeye daisy and, for the winter months when bees struggle to find food, mahonia and crocuses can apparently really help.
As well as individuals, local community organisations and businesses are investing in and promoting the beautiful bee in their efforts to support environmental and social sustainability.
In this paper last week I read about the Pollinator Patch Scheme that’s aiming to plant 500 square metres of nectar-rich flowers around Torbay.
At Paignton Zoo, local business Bettesworths recently supported the installation of four brand new, custom-built bee hotels.
These are designed to provide solitary bees, who make up the vast majority of Britain’s bee population, with somewhere to nest.
Another local business, Waggle Events, who offer discounted rates to charity clients and also donate a percentage of profits to charity, ‘pollinating' good causes as they go about their day to day work, use a bee as their logo.
Plants that attract bees are often also attractive to butterflies.
As well as being beautiful creatures to look at, butterflies do a great deal for the environment.
Like bees, they’re plant pollinators. They also help to control certain species by eating them, while providing food for others.
An abundance of butterflies is often an indication that an ecosystem is thriving.
According to BBC Good Food, honey is a great alternative to refined sugar and raw honey can be an excellent source of antioxidants, minerals and enzymes.
It’s long been thought that eating local honey can help to stave off hay fever and other allergies. Whether or not that’s true, it’s always good to buy local.
So, if you haven’t already done so, perhaps consider including some bee and butterfly friendly plants and shrubs next time you’re adding to your garden, or getting involved in the Pollinator Patch Scheme.
If you feel like going one step further and have the space to house bees, you can learn more through Torbay Beekeepers: tbbk.co.uk
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