Small, but vital. Bees pollinate more than a third of all our food crops and around 90% of our wildflowers. In summer, these tenacious creatures work even harder, as the higher temperature makes their task of finding nectar even more difficult. So, why not help by creating a bee-friendly environment in your garden and home?
Summer is the most strenuous time of the year for bees.
Researchers at the University of Sussex’ Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) have discovered that over this period, bees cover areas 22 times greater than in spring, and six times greater than in autumn. They also found that additional challenges during the summer months include fewer suitable flowers and more active insects to compete with for nectar and pollen.
So next time you’re lying in the sun, catching some rays, and a bee lands on your melting ice lolly, spare a thought for how far the poor fellow has travelled to get there.
“Bees are the batteries of orchards, gardens, guard them.” – Carol Ann Duffy
1o ways to create a bee-friendly garden.
Create a vegetable and fruit garden
It does not have to be a large garden. Just make sure it is packed with the delicious, fresh fare that bees love. This is the best way to create a bee-friendly garden.
Put out a dish of water
Take a shallow plate, load it with pebbles and rocks or marbles and fill it with water. Place outside, preferably in the shade, and refill as needed.
Plant a pollinator garden
Give bees what they need by planting a variety of flowers that generally last from early spring to late autumn. Plant them in clumps, so that they are easily found, and consult the Candide app (available on the Apple App store and Google Play store) for more information.
Find more information on the Candide App.
Use bee-friendly pesticides
It’s best to be safe and use natural remedies, such as vinegar, Epsom salt and essential oils. But if you decide to use pesticides, research them thoroughly first.
By supporting organic farmers you are opting for farming methods that do not make use of pesticides. The more people who do this, the less demand there is for these toxic chemicals.
Buy raw honey from local beekeepers
Not only is raw honey more nutritious, but most honey bought in stores is processed, pasteurised and loaded with added sugars. So support your local beekeepers.
Provide a home for solitary bees
There are approximately 1 300 species of solitary bees in South Africa. The Candide Solitary Bee Hotel is a rectangular piece of wood with a number of different sized holes bored into it, which mimics natural breeding nests and attracts solitary bees. They use the holes as a safe breeding place and, once they have laid their eggs, they store food for their youngsters, seal the entrance and leave.
Let your lawn be wild
Bees don’t like a lawn without flowers. Instead of mowing your own lawn, square off a section that can grow wild and free.
Weeds can be a good thing
Do not weed your garden. Many plants such as dandelion, for example, are an excellent source of food for bees.
Find out what to do if a bee stings and find more gardening inspiration here
Learn to love bees
Bees do not want to hurt you. They want to find pollen and nectar from flowers and bring that food back for themselves and their hive. If a bee is around you or lands on you, stay still and calm. They often are trying to sniff you and the smell of fear or anger pheromones may trigger them to sting you.