Plan Bee: help your local bees Honey bees and other types of bees are suffering a sharp drop in numbers, with serious consequences for the natural environment and our food crops.
Green Wedmore is working with local beekeepers to support bees in the area. We also have a DVD of an informative film called Vanishing of the Bees available for loan – contact Steve Mewes firstname.lastname@example.org or 01934 710530.
Here are 10 tips for helping honey bees:
1. Plant bee-friendly plants – where there are few agricultural crops, honey bees rely on garden flowers for a diverse diet of nectar and pollen. Encourage them to visit your garden by planting flowering plants and vegetables. Go for the allium family, all the mints, beans and flowering herbs. Bees like daisy-shaped flowers – asters and sunflowers – and also tall plants such as hollyhocks, larkspur and foxgloves. Leaflets on bee-friendly trees and shrubs can be downloaded from www.britishbee.org.uk
2. Join your local beekeepers – they welcome people who are interested in bees and beekeeping to observe apiary meetings in the summer, and they also run bee-keeping courses. Contact Liz Friend, secretary of Wedmore & Cheddar group of the Somerset Beekeepers Association; 01934 712771.
3. Find space for a beehive – ask the local association if anyone would be interested in siting a hive in your garden. You could have a look inside with the beekeeper without having responsibility for the hive.
4. Buy local honey.
5. Ask your MP and MEP to lobby for more funds for bee health research.
6. Don’t leave unwashed honey jars outside your door – honey brought in from overseas can carry bacteria and spores that are very harmful to honey bees.
7. Bee friendly – if a bee hovers in front of you, don’t flap your arms about, but stay calm and move slowly away. Bees don’t like the smell of alcohol on people or the ‘animal’ smell of leather, while dark clothing can be seen as a threat – it could be a bear! Sometimes scented soaps, shampoos and perfumes can confuse bees.
8. Protect swarms – they are nature’s way of increasing colonies of honey bees. Contact a local beekeeper and they will come and collect it.
9. Encourage local authorities to plant bee friendly plants in public spaces.
10. Learn more about honey bees – ask a local beekeeper to come and talk to your group, or visit www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk
Pollen and nectar sources for bees
Bees collect nectar – a dilute solution of natural sugars produced by flowers – and pollen. The list below shows which species produce pollen and nectar and when.
The asterisks indicate main sources.
Feb Crocus, alder, laurestinus
Mar Willow*, blackthorn, celandine, flowering currant
Apr Laurel, gooseberry, plum*, dandelion*, cherry*, pear, rape
May Rape*, bluebell, sycamore*, apple*, maple, field beans*, cotoneaster, hawthorn, horse chestnut
Jun Raspberry*, white clover*, many garden plants and shrubs
Jul Lime*, blackberry*, willow-herb*, white clover*, sweet chestnut, fuchsia
Aug Blackberry*, willow-herb*, heather*, balsam, fuchsia
Sep Heather*, Michaelmas daisy, golden rod
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