This year I’ve been impressed with the surge of interest in bees and beekeeping,
talking to the public at our events people are keen to know what they can do to help
and I provide a list here of nine ideas, this is not a definitive list and we can
add to it and hopefully produce a leaflet from the results. Please let me have your
1. Stop using insecticides - especially for 'cosmetic' gardening.
There are better ways of dealing with pests - especially biological controls. Modern
pesticides are extremely powerful and many are long-lasting and very toxic to bees
and other insects. Removing all unnecessary pesticides from the environment is probably
the single most important thing we can do to save the bees.
2. Avoid seeds coated with systemic insecticides.
Beware - many seeds are now coated with Clothianidin and related systemic insecticides,
which cause the entire plant to become toxic to bees and all other insects that may
feed on it. Check your seed packets carefully -and if in doubt, ask the manufacturer
for full information.
3. Read the labels on garden compost - beware hidden killers!
Some garden composts are on sale that contain Imidacloprid - a deadly insecticide
manufactured by Bayer. It is often disguised as 'vine weevil protection' or similar,
but it is highly toxic to all insects and all soil life, including beneficial earthworms.
The insecticide is taken up by plants, and if you use this compost in hanging baskets,
bees seeking water from the moist compost may be killed.
4. Create natural habitat.
If you have space in your garden, let some of it go wild to create a safe haven for
bees and other insects and small mammals. Gardens that are too tidy are not so wildlife-friendly!
5. Plant bee-friendly flowers.
You can buy wildflower seeds from many seed merchants, and they can be sown in any
spare patch of ground - even on waste ground that is not being cultivated. Some 'guerilla
gardeners' even plant them in public parks!
6. Make a wild bee house.
Providing a simple box as a place for feral bees to set up home is one step short
of taking up beekeeping, but may appeal to those who want to have bees around but
don't want to get involved with looking after them. Ideas for such boxes can be found
on the internet.
7. Support your local beekeepers.
Many people believe that local honey can help to reduce the effects of hayfever and
similar allergies, which is one good reason to buy honey from a local beekeeper rather
than from supermarkets, most of which source honey from thousands of miles away.
If you can, find a beekeeper who does not use any chemicals in their hives and ask
for comb honey for a real treat.
8. Learn about bees - and tell others.
Bees are fascinating creatures that relatively few people take the trouble to understand.
Read a good book about bees and beekeeping, and who knows - you might decide to:
9. Become a beekeeper.
Find a course for beginners and sign up.
The major obligation placed on NBKA by our charitable status is that of Education.
I think it’s important not to become complacent, we must challenge ourselves to
examine accepted wisdom and I would love to hear views from anyone who has visited
a website called www.biobees.com. The site is based on the work of P J Chandler
and his book ‘The Barefoot Beekeeper’. His ideas appear to be based on challenging
our beekeeping practices in as much as they are based on ‘commercial beekeeping’
ie, Nationals, WBCs, Langstroths etc are all based on the removable frame which is
designed to facilitate commercial honey production whereas we hobby beekeepers are
able to take a larger view if we choose. Interesting stuff.
Bee-Lines (A selection from our quarterly magazine)