BEES

How to play your part in saving our bee pollination:

The honeybee and general bee pollination is an indicator of our planet’s health, and sadly currently this situation is looking rather bleak as every year bee populations are dwindling drastically.

We as humans don’t realise how much of an impact this can have on our food sources as well as the food sources of for example other animals.
In South Africa, though many people keep ‘domestic bee colonies’ the vast majority of our bee pollination is still wild. These wild bees ensure the pollination of grassland and forest areas is sustained and therefore that the food source of a lot of animals including our Big Five is also sustained. Therefore dwindling bee populations has a general adverse effect on ecosystems. The collapse of colonies can lead to the loss of habitats and therefore the loss of wildlife species.

There are many reasons and causes to the bee population reducing and even disappearing. One of the main reasons though is the reckless use of pesticides for both agricultural crops and garden use, which is killing off working bees in masses and therefore leads to the death of bee larvae as well which are not fed.

Here are some ways that you can play a part in reducing this specific problem:

  • Choose to spray less.
  • Use less toxic and natural insecticides (make enquiries before purchasing and using).
  • Encourage predatory insects to your garden to control pests.
  • Look after the general health of your plants so they are less likely to be targeted by pests.

We as home gardeners have a massive role to play in preserving bee colonies and one of the main things we can do, is to add plants to our gardens which provide nectar for the worker bees to take home to the colonies.
When choosing plants keep in mind that bees cannot see red, but can see colours which contain red wavelengths such as orange and yellow. Colours like blue, blue-green, violet, ultraviolet and purple are all very viable to bees and will readily attract them.

Here is a list of plants which attract bees:

Herbs like basil (annual and perennial), rosemary, lavender, thyme, oregano, borage and comfrey are all attractive to bees.
Shrubs and trees like Plumbagos, roses, bottlebrushes, Hebe, Buddleja and fruiting trees like apples and pears are all serious bee attractors as well.
Bedding plants like Salvia (especially purple ones), Barleria, Scabiosa, daisies (like Osteospermum and Gazania), daylilies, and red-hot pokers will all be abuzz with bee activity.

Aloe’s, vygies, Crassula (N.B Crassula multicava) and Cotyledons are all examples of water-wise plants which provide nectar for bees especially in winter time when flowers are sparse.

In conclusion, we do realise that people are sometimes allergic to bee stings. So if you know you are allergic to bees practice caution when introducing plants to your garden, which you know will attract them. Another option is to choose to plant these bee attractors in parts of your garden where bees are not likely to bug you. Also, remember to always keep antihistamine tablets etc as a precaution. We need to learn to live in harmony with these creatures and not be fearful of them. Bee’s dying out is an extremely big problem. One that we as humans need to sort out, as we are one of the main reasons this problem exists in the first place. We hope that this post inspires you to help in whatever way you can.

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