It is World Bee Day again and this year we thought that we would share our love of bees and other pollinators from the perspective of our resident beekeeper!

Helen and her husband keep two apiaries (bee hives) in their garden and are best placed to explain why bees and other pollinators are important. Initially, they started to keep bees to help increase the yield of their pollinated vegetables but then they learnt the importance of keeping bees due to dwindling populations. Did you know that ‘three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits, or seeds for use as human food depend, at least in part, on bees and other pollinators’ (source UN)? The next time you bite into an apple or pear just think that it wouldn’t be possible without a bee or pollinator!

The greatest threat facing our bee and pollinator populations comes from human activity, including intensive farming practices, land-use change, mono-cropping, use of pesticides and higher temperatures associated with climate change. On a positive note, the population of our honeybees has increased over the past twenty years due to the rise in popularity of beekeeping. However, the populations of our native bees, of which there are over 270 different species in the UK alone, are sadly declining.

Did you know that the UK Government takes beekeeping so seriously that it has its own National Bee Unit? They collect data on beekeepers, the location of apiaries and their health and well-being. Indeed, Helen and her husband were audited by the National Bee Unit a few years ago and passed with flying colours!

So, what can you do to help?

Well, if you fancy keeping honeybees the best place to start is to find your local Beekeepers Association, they offer courses and other events to help ease you into beekeeping. Alternatively, you can look at how you keep your garden. It is ‘No Mow May’ this month which encourages gardeners to let their lawns grow long to provide food sources for pollinators. The rest of the year you could keep an area of wildflower or longer grass to offer habitats and food sources for pollinators throughout the year.  If you do not have the space for a wildflower area, then you could plant wildlife-friendly plants. Bug or bee hotels are also a welcome addition to any garden as these offer habitats and overwintering opportunities for bees and other pollinators. If you can also reduce the use of pesticides within the garden and perhaps opt for organic or natural alternatives instead that will help with local populations.