I have to confess that I’ve always been a little bit scared of bees and other buzzing insects (if one flies into the house, I tend to make a sharp exit!). But, after reading about the rapid decline in the bee population over recent years, I’ve decided it’s high time I got over my fear and did something to assist these vital creatures.
I’ve been spurred on by family-run tea company Taylors of Harrogate, who are running a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of bees. They kindly sent me a pack of bee-related goodies (including a few of their delicious fruit and herb blends, which are only possible thanks to bees), along with tips for easy ways we can all give them a helping hand.
Bees perform all sorts of essential roles – they pollinate flowers and food crops, and they provide us with honey, beeswax for candles, and much more. But, thanks to urbanisation, pollution and pesticides, their numbers have decreased by a massive 52% in the last 25 years.
Britain has lost 97% of the wildflower meadows where bees traditionally make their homes, but research by the University of Bristol has shown that they can thrive in urban areas as well as in the countryside. Chris and I are therefore making small changes to encourage more stripy little fellows into our city garden.
We’ve started by placing a bee hotel in a secluded corner, giving bees a place to nest and grow (the Grow Wild Project has useful instructions to help you create your own).
We’re also planting bee-friendly flowers such as snow drops, geraniums, poppies, buttercups and sunflowers. We’re particularly keen to introduce lots of lavender after seeing hundreds of happy bees buzzing around the purple fields of the Somerset Lavender Farm on a recent visit.
The results so far are encouraging: in the last few days we’ve seen numerous bees hovering around the garden, including the handsome-looking chap below, who was sunning himself on our table. We’ve even spotted a few nosing around the bee hotel, contemplating whether to take up residence. And it turns out there are many people trying to help bees in our area, as local shopkeepers have teamed up to introduce a ‘green corridor‘ of pollinator-friendly plants along Bristol’s Gloucester Road, just around the corner from our house.
You can find out more about what you can do for bees over on the Taylors of Harrogate website. They’ve also built their own luxurious bee hotel, which is modelled on The Grand Budapest Hotel and has a series of rooms themed around various tea flavours. This video of the winged guests making the most of the five-star facilities is one of the loveliest things I’ve watched in a while!
Taylors of Harrogate kindly provided a free pack of bee-related treats for the purpose of this post, but all words and opinions are my own.
Photography by Abi Dare