Struggling with bee-brexit

Bees are one of the most important pollinators in the whole world, since they are responsible for either pollinating the many fruits and vegetables we eat or for pollinating the food for the animals that we then consume.

However, a recent study published by the Universities of Sheffield and Cranfield, showed that the populations of bees in the UK suffered a steady decline between the 1980 and 2013. Moreover, an analysis of more than 350 species of wild bees and hoverflies showed that those species can only be found now in 75% of the places they were found in 1980.

Scientists and researchers believe this decline in pollinators is due to the vanishing of the UK’s flower meadows – most of them have disappeared since the Second World War.

Bring bees back

This loss of habitats has left the remaining UK’s pollinators hungry and homeless. Faced with this news, the council of Brent, a borough in London, has decided to plant wildflowers in order to attract bees and promote the replenishment of pollinator populations.

In May last year, the London council announced an 11 kilometre “bee corridor” to be planted in parks and green spaces along the borough, to help attract bees and other pollinators.

The plan was to sow mainly ragged robin, cowslip and common poppy in hopes these wildflowers would encourage our bee friends to return to the city. The result was better than expected and added a beautiful pop of colour to the parks of Brent.

So far, 23 meadow areas have had wildflowers planted and grown on them and are a part of the 11-kilometre-long bee corridor. How many other councils are going to follow Brent’s example this year?

Bees pollinating flowers

How can we bring bees back?

Help out: plant a flower “temple”

Giving bees the much-needed safe environment for them to grow and reproduce is also the premise of an emerging trend around the world. Have you ever heard of bees’ “sanctuaries”?

These human-created habitats, thought to support local bee populations, are usually composed by a combination of different kinds of native species of flowers of all shapes and sizes, grown without extra watering, fertilizers or chemicals. Can I get an Amen!

If you too want to attract bees and pollinators to your garden and create your own flower “temple”, read this useful list of bee-friendly wildflowers – but first, make sure to get informed about the native wildflowers of your region.

According to the Journal of Insect Conservation, some of the best wildflowers for a mini bee corridor or temple at home are :

Bee pollinating flower
  • Silene vulgaris, commonly called the bladder campion or maidenstears;
  • Geranium lucidum, commonly known as shining cranesbill;
  • Veronica chamaedrys, the germander speedwell, bird’s-eye speedwell, or cat’s eyes;
  • Ranunculus acris, whose common names include meadow buttercup, tall buttercup, common buttercup and giant buttercup;
  • Viola arvensis, a species of violet known by field pansy;
  • Crepis capillaris or, as it is known, smooth hawksbeard;
  • Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion;
  • Convolvulus arvensis, or field bindweed;
  • Centaurea scabiosa, known as greater knapweed.

 

Remember other species of wildflowers, such as the common poppy are also pollinator-friendly. This is also true for herbs and other flowers, such as lavender, cilantro, thyme, fennel, sunflower or calendula.