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12. Plant some flowers

July 1, 2012

It’s been well documented in recent years that bees are declining in the UK (and in many other parts of the world, too). In 2008, the British Bee Keepers Association reported that the bee population in the United Kingdom dropped by around 30% between 2007 and 2008. A population decline of almost a third in one year is incredibly disturbing.

A little something called Colony Collapse Disorder is often to blame, which is when bee colonies suddenly disappear. There have been numerous theories as to why this is – new pesticides, malnutrition, radiation – but there actually isn’t a definitive answer at the moment, and it might well be a combination of factors. What we do know is that across the globe, the bee population is shrinking at quite an alarming rate.

Apart from the fact that it’s always worrying when any species starts to disappear for no reason, it’s also potentially going to cause significant problems for humans. Bees are great little pollinators, meaning that they play an important part in crop production. With millions of bees disappearing, the effect on agriculture is going to be significant.

In fact, one theory regarding the disappearance of the bees is to do with the fact that there is less land used for agriculture in the UK these days, and bees find it increasingly difficult to survive in a hostile environment. Therefore, if you have a garden, or even a window box, you might want to think about making it a better place for bees to be. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has some handy tips on ways to do this, and even has an app called Bee Kind to help you identify plants that bees will like. For example, bees can’t get into long, tunnel-shaped flowers, so those aren’t great, and there are also a number of flowers, such as pansies and double begonias, which produce little or no pollen and nectar because they have been selectively bred for their appearance. It’s also a good idea to plant flowers together – that means that bees don’t have to travel far between flowers. Bees get tired too, you know!

Although nobody is completely sure how we’re going to be able to save the bees, this is something that anybody with a bit of outside space can do. Hopefully it’ll make a difference, and in the meantime, you’ll have a more beautiful, colourful garden.

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