The importance of bees to the world’s ecosystem is well documented and over the past few years is getting increasing attention in main stream media. This is mainly down to a collapse in the bee population. Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD has devastated the bee population.
The cause of the problem is not known exactly but research indicates that bee’s ability to navigate back to a hive is impaired through the use of certain pesticides. Habitat loss and a series of bad Summers is also having an adverse impact on the bee population.
The decline in the bee population is not something that most people give much consideration to. However this may change as the production of certain food crops is adversely impacted. Bees play an essential part in the pollination process by ferrying pollen from one plant to another. Apples, pears, carrots and onions are a few of the basic food crops that depend on bees for survival.
Gardeners, farmers and suburban households can all play a part in the revival of the bee population by developing habitats sympathetic to bees. So what can be done.
PROTECTION AND SHELTER
Bees find it difficult to fly in breezy conditions, so if possible find a sheltered area in your garden and reserve it for nectar plants. tall shrubs and trees can help act as “windbreaks”
MAINTAIN NESTING GROUNDS
Believe it or not some varieties of bees nest in the ground so in the sheltered area you have developed don’t be over enthusiastic about tidying up. let the grass grow a little longer than usual or leave taller clumps that will be attract bees. For bees that do not nest on the ground there home of choice is something like a dead tree trunk. Unfortunately you cannot just conjure up a tree trunk from nowhere but you could purchase a man made beehive.
Honey bees love simple dish shaped flowers. Plants that are “showy” with a multitude of colourful petals are not much good to bees as they cannot get at the nectar. marigolds, apples, hollyhocks and fennel are just some of the plants that bees will be able to extract food from. When choosing plants to attract bees you should select plants at a variety of heights. By doing so, the bees will be able to stick to the smaller bedding plants on windy days.
Bees also need plenty of water so if you do not have one already the addition of a bird bath in or around your “bee sanctuary” is a must.
Attracting bees and developing a hive in your garden may seem like a thankless task but believe me it is far from it. Not only will you be helping the overall ecosystem in your neighboring but you will also harvest some delicious honey. If you have kids do not let it be an excuse to postpone the development of the hive. By explaining all the factors that need to be considered to your children they will get a real understanding of just how complex nature is and the benefits of living in harmony with it.