Helping British Bees

 – Beekeepers Emily and Emma –

Wednesday May 17th, 2017 – Emily: Beekeeper

Plant flowers and save the bees!

At Little Green Radicals we love bees. Enough to feature them throughout our SS17 Wander to the sea collection. Look out for them on our Cornish copper print,  flying beneath Cornish hedgerows & flowers & we use beautiful bees wax in our organic skincare too. So we care that they’re quite often badly affected by changes to the environment. Emily Scott is a Beekeeper who lives just around the corner from LGR towers and very familiar with how different types of bees are being affected, and what people can do to help.

Here is what Emily has to say…

You may have heard that bees are not doing so well lately. But which bees? When you imagine a bee, you might think of a busy honey bee hard at work in a hive. Or perhaps of a fuzzy, furry bumble bee, gently buzzing its way through a wildflower meadow.

In reality though, the European honey bee Apis mellifera, which I and thousands of other British beekeepers keep, is not endangered.  Neither is the craft of beekeeping – members of the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) have soared from 8,463 members in 2003 to just under 25,000 members in 2016.  We are a lively community, passionate about our bees and the environment they live in.

So honey bees are not in danger of dying out. Some bees certainly are under threat though, including many species of bumble and solitary bees. You may be surprised to hear that there around 240 species of solitary bees in the UK, many of which are tiny and go unnoticed by us as we go about our daily lives. Many of these bees can be highly effective pollinators. They have very poetic names too, such as the Hairy footed flower bee and the Wool carder bee.   

There are also 25 species of bumblebee in the UK, although only eight are commonly found in most places. Sadly two bumblebee species have become nationally extinct in the past 80 years, while other species have declined dramatically. The reason: there are fewer flowers than there used to be. It takes a lot of nectar-rich flower energy to power a bumblebee.

The good news is, you can help all species of bees by planting suitable flowers for them.  You don’t need a big garden or even any garden at all: a window box can help too. There are lots of resources available on gardening for British bees, here are a few to get you started:

  • Flowers for bees – a great London Beekeepers Association web section on pollinator-friendly plants, including how to plant a pollinator-friendly window box.
  • The best garden flowers for beesBumblebee expert Professor Dave Goulson has a pretty A-Z page full of photos and explanations of the best garden flowers for bees, from Agastache to Wisteria.
  • Top ten plants for bees a simple list of bee-friendly, good looking, easy to grow and low-maintenance flowers by London beekeeper Dale Gibson.

Or if gardening really isn’t for you, there’s other ways to help bees too. Why not join the Bumblebee Conservation Trust , which aims to halt the decline of British bumblebees, or support beekeeping charities such as Bees for Development, which promotes sustainable beekeeping by local people in developing countries.

Happy bee helping!

Emily Scott

Read more from Emily’s blog here >

The Hairy footed flower bee? That definitely has to go in our next collection!

Comb through our Bees Knees products for your little one >

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