We would have a hefty bill to pay if an economic value was ascribed to bees’ contribution to our lives. We must urgently halt their decline.
Worker honey bees have been deserting their hives in large numbers in the US. This is most likely triggered by pesticides, epidemics and food shortages. The same applies to Bumble bees that have been in steep decline in the UK since 1950’s. Wiped out by bug sprays, habitat loss and monocultures. Large acreages of the same crop all flowering at the same time produce abundance too brief to benefit them. Gardeners can help out by abandoning pesticides and growing flowering plants throughout the year that bees like feeding on. Bees particularly like single blooms. Try geraniums, echinops and ceanothus. They also love lavender, borage, scabious, foxgloves and thyme.
Harvard University researchers are working on an artificial bee. The Harvard Wyss Institute is offering the device for crop pollination. This idea is completely mad! Are humans seriously going to build billions of tiny drones at immense cost to do a job bees would do better for nothing if we manage our world intelligently?
Apps for Insects: An online tool that lets you design your garden around the needs of butterflies, bees and insects. The threat of an insect apocalypse looms. It is clear we need to try harder to get along and understand insects better. In the UK flying insects alone have declined as much as 60 per cent in the past 60 years, a survey by Buglife and Kent Wildlife Trust suggests. “We need to have more empathy for insects, they are vital for our ecosystems to flourish”. Alexandra Daisy Ginsburg has designed a tool to create gardens that encourage bees, beetles, moths, wasps butterflies and other vital pollinating insects to thrive. Pollinator Pathmaker is part of a new wave of apps and gadgets encouraging us to rethink our relationship with insects in our gardens.
Pollinators play an essential role in supporting biodiversity and contribute more than £500mn a year to UK agriculture and food production according to official figures. But they are disappearing due to habitat loss, pesticides, invasive species and climate change.
There are plenty of lo tech ways to attract pollinators to your garden. Websites such as: https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org and https://www.rhs.org.uk provide helpful lists of plants to choose from. The RHS advise you to fill your garden with as wide a range of plants as possible that will flower throughout the year. The UK Government also offer some basic tips as part of its Pollinator Action Plan, such as mow your lawn less often, avoid disturbing nests and avoid using pesticides.
In the US people spray their gardens for mosquitoes and wonder why there are no birds and no bees. Well now is the time to stop spraying and start planting.
Information for this blog is taken from Johnathan Guthrie’s article ‘The £135 bn Sting’ and from Malaika Byng’s article ‘Apps for Insects’ in the Financial Times, House and Home Section.