Bees have been in decline for about the past 15 years. I believe it was 2006 when David Tennant uttered the immortal line on Doctor Who: “Why are the bees disappearing?”
It was a question they never answered. Because no sonic screwdriver, no TARDIS, no noisy battle with the Daleks could fix the problem. The bees ARE disappearing.
And here’s why: Human interference. For centuries, we have systematically gone on a campaign of building, and humanity’s collective footprint has become far greater than our ancestors could ever have imagined.
There are plenty of green spaces outdoors, but they’re the wrong kind of spaces for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. We have acres and acres of monotone green grass verges, green roundabouts, green front gardens which we mow weekly to keep it to a socially-acceptable height. We’re more worried about offending the neighbours than preserving the insects who literally keep us alive.
Without pollinators, the plants will stop growing. They will die out. Then we will die out. Even meat-eaters.
So making your garden a haven for pollinators is quite important. Here’s five tried-and-tested ways to do it (even in small gardens).
- Plant a buddleia (aka buddleja): This shrub is also known as the butterfly bush for a reason! In full bloom, the buddleia’s fluffy-looking flowers attract dozens of butterflies and bees.
- Mow your lawn less often: Switch to a two-week schedule instead of weekly in the fast-growing summer months. This encourages things like clover, daisies and buttercups to grow in your grass, all of which will attract bees (and look amazing).
- Put up a bee hotel: This is a specially designed place a bit like a birdhouse but especially for bees. In the circular holes in the wooden structure, solitary bees can hang out. You can buy a bee hotel online.
- Put up a butterfly hotel: Like a bee hotel, except this one has long, thin entrances designed for butterflies (and to keep out things that might harm them).
- Dedicate a section of your garden as a wildflower area. You can either do this by not mowing your lawn in certain areas or by scattering wildflower seeds in a dedicated flower bed or container. Packets of wildflower seeds are perfect for cultivated land like lawns and gardens. Do be careful of scattering wildflower seeds in woodlands or other public spaces, however, as they can force out native species of flowers.
So there you have it, five ways you can attract pollinators into your garden and make your lawn a friendly space for these vital species! Have you done any of these? Let me know in the comments!