Today is World Bee Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of bees, the threats they face and how we can prevent bee populations from declining. Without bees, our very existence would be at risk. Bees are our most important pollinators – contributing to food security, biodiversity conservation, and eco-system stability – and it’s estimated that a third of all the food we eat relies on pollinators.
Bee populations are under constant threat due to factors such as the use of pesticides, and habitat loss. According to Gary Petersen, Managing Director at Beespoke Africa Beehives, natural pastures need to be designated and reserved for bees as a food source. “Pasturage is defined as the vegetation of wildflowers and plants that bees can feed on. To produce honey, bees need to collect nectar and pollen grains. It’s an issue that is consistently being raised as a cause for concern by bee farmers in the industry,” says Petersen.
At the same time, bees are in great demand as pollinators for our growing agricultural sector. “Beekeeping is a much-needed artisanal skill and, as such, has created an opportunity for job creation and empowerment. It’s an area of development for youth who are interested in future ‘green’ jobs,” explains Petersen.
Here are five tips to support bee populations by enticing them to your garden to feed:
- Plant a bee-friendly garden with sweetly scented, nectar-rich plants that have long blooming cycles, or plant a succession of flowers, so as one finishes flowering, another starts. And remember to let your plants flower for longer to allow honeybees to access the pollen and nectar they need.
- Believe it or not, bees have certain flower colours that they prefer. They flock to yellow, purple, blue, and white flowers.
- Bees love herbs such as sage, fennel, lavender, thyme, and rosemary; flowers such as sunflowers, coneflowers, Cape daisies, roses, Cape forget-me-nots, cosmos and salvias; and shrubs such as Hibiscus, Aloes and Proteas. Fruits and veggies such as watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkin are also a bee-fave!
- Bees are small and can drown easily, so choose a shallow water source such as a bird bath. Or alternatively, a saucer filled with marbles or small stones makes for an excellent DIY watering station for bees.
- Go chemical free! Avoid using pesticides in your garden as most chemicals are toxic to bees.
Another way to celebrate World Bee Day is by supporting local beekeepers, who use products from their hives to create honey, soaps, lotions and beeswax candles. When you purchase locally-produced honey and beeswax products, you’re not only supporting these hard-working beekeepers – but also taking a stand to save the honey bee.
Beespoke Africa Beehives manufactures skilfully crafted beehives and frames for Africa, employing highly skilled wood craftsmen using quality materials and meticulous attention to detail. Bees are all about the detail, and so are we.