Today Is World Bee Day

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Three days ago the World Wildlife Fund and Buglife published their joint report on the state of British bees in the East of England. Their findings were based on the monitoring work of research institutions across a region whose great range of habitats make it potentially bee-rich territory. Some 228 species were included in the study.

And the conclusions:

• 25 species (11%) threatened

• 17 species (7%) regionally extinct

• 31 species (14%) of conservation concern

And the reasons? Climate change, habitat loss, pollution, disease and agricultural pesticides of the neonicotinoid variety (now banned by the EU). The report gives a county by county list of lost species, the ones most affected being solitary and rare species that occupy very specific wildlife niches: e.g. coastal dunes, heaths, woods, wetlands and brownfield sites such as old quarries and gravel pits. But it is not all bad news. At least that is to say there has been an increase in common food pollinating bee species – possibly a result of the more extensive growing of oil seed rape and efforts by farmers to create field margins to support bee populations.

For anyone interested in bees the report is packed with species specific information and excellent photos, and outlines many practical strategies for re-establishing lost diversity and habitat. In other words WE CAN DO SOMETHING.

Talking of which, my bee photos were taken yesterday morning, the first of the year, and out in the guerrilla garden on the field margin, where I have planted (among other things) verbascum grown from seed a couple of years ago. It is such a stately plant and comes in many colours (common name mullein). Certainly this particular little bumblebee (red-tailed, male?) seemed very excited by the newly opening flowers.

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Related: UN World Bee Day

44 thoughts on “Today Is World Bee Day

  1. I haven’t read the latest report from Scandinavia, but I think you might be better off than we are. I also try my best to plant what they want, the bees, and to make hotels for them. I just hate that the farmers over here don’t seem to want to preserve the field margins for wild flowers (and bees). We are constantly working on it in the biologist groups.

    1. Good to hear about your pro-wildlife activism, but you’ve really surprised me. I suppose I’d thought that in Scandinavia everyone was rather more environmentally conscious than we Brits.

      1. The farmers know about this, I am sure they do – but too little is being done! I don’t have a clue to why, really…Money?

      2. I guess communities get tied into ‘big agriculture’ programmes and protocols, and most consumers don’t live on the land so don’t see the connection; nor probably believe that much of their food is pollinator dependent.

      3. I guess you are right about this – that is why we have to go on working for it to reach every person in responsible positions as well.

  2. Many do not realize how dependent humans are on bees. It’s another example of human intervention in the balance of the planet. We need more people to plant natives to help preserve the existence of this precious and hard-working species.

    1. I think you’d be a whizz at making bee houses. They’re fairly simple. We have a bug hotel at the allotment, made from a stack of builders pallets with hidey holes packed between – flower pots and garden canes etc.

  3. You’ve introduced me to some new terms – field margins and guerrilla gardens. The field margins I’m pretty sure I understand. The concept of providing safe space for bees on the edges of the planting fields sounds so obvious once I hear it … but guerrilla garden?

    1. Guerrilla gardening started in the UK a while ago – people putting in small gardens in neglected public spaces – sometimes by stealth. Our guerrilla garden is on the outside of our garden fence, so not on our land as such. However, the landowner does know that we and our neighbours are doing our bit for biodiversity on the edge of his field.

  4. Very important and good to have the research link. I recently looked up the rainforest, Puerto Rico study as sometimes comments in some blogs are still decrying the science and pollinators and all insects are so vital to ecosystems. Love your mullein and just found one in a plant pot with those lovely parcel buds.

  5. I try to plant only flowers that bees and butterflies love. And fortunately with the smaller fields here and the Cornish hedges there are a lot of native plants for them.

  6. I think people don’t realize that without bees, there’s no food. No cross-pollination. I think most people believe plants just grow themselves and all they need is some dirt and water.

  7. The decline, & extinction of some species of bee is a huge worry. One positive thing that’s come from social media (but not exclusively) is seeing people sharing information about the plight of bees & spreading the word about the seriousness of the problem. I notice how many places/councils no longer cut down dandelions/cut the grass in areas too soon, for example. Little steps help, I guess, but the plight of rare bees or saving their unusual habitats is going to be much harder. Fabulous to see they’re loving the blooms from the seeds you planted, Tish! I’m sure they’d thank you if they could! 😊

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