BEES NEED YOUR SUGAR!

Bees are at their busiest in late summer/early autumn. So busy that sometimes they become exhausted and lie on the ground, seemingly dead, as they rest a while.

You can give them a helping had though – mix two tablespoons of white sugar with one tablespoon of water and stir, place it in a small container, like an egg cup, and put it amongst the bees’ favourite flowers.

Bees love it and it will give them extra energy as they buzz around pollinating our plants. Remember – without bees we’d all be going hungry as many of our crops would fail, so it only seems fair to give them a helping hand when they need it.

Only put out a small amount at a time (so they don’t have excess sugar) and be sure to put it in a very small container so birds don’t dive in for a sugary bath! Strangely enough it’s not a good idea to give them honey. Much of our UK honey is imported and could actually be bad for our native bees.

Another way to help bees is by becoming a bee-keeper. My brother has just taken up this unusual hobby and is loving it. He’s out there in his strange gear carefully tending the hive and making sure the Queen and other bees have all they need. You should see his face light up as he watches his hive develop and the bees fill up the honey comb with help from the sugar syrup he’s feeding them in their first year.

There’s lots of information about getting started at www.britishbee.org.uk The British Beekeepers Association. If you don’t fancy doing all the work yourself, and you have some space in your garden, you can let a local beekeeper put their hive in your garden. They will do all the work and you can sit back in the knowledge that you’re doing your bit to help the British Bee population. I expect you’ll even get a jar of your own garden honey.

British Bees are under threat due to habitat loss and the use of pesticides. Three of our species have already gone extinct and several more are severely threatened, including the wild honey bee, the short-haired bumblebee and the large, noisy and very cute looking bumble bee.If beekeeping is not your thing you can still help by planting flowering plants in your garden, allotment or window box. These plants provide vital nectar and pollen for bees and other insects.

Knapweeds, sunflowers, purple loosestrife and buddleia are just some of the plants that bees like.

And if you have a garden try to leave a patch of bare earth in a lawn or border as solitary bees like to burrow into this.

About the Author: Chantal Cooke is a professional journalist, author and co-founder of PASSION for the PLANET
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