Take part in the Great British Bee Count 2016
Friends of the Earth's Great British Bee Count kicks off May 19
What is the Great British Bee Count?
Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count 19 May-30 June is a fun way to get involved in helping the nation’s bees.
Using a free smartphone app available on both iPhone and Android, thousands of people up and down the country are getting ready to record sightings of bees where they live and work.
You can submit sightings from anywhere in the UK. By taking a photo or by using the app’s simple identification guide, you can record a bee sighting on your patch in a matter of seconds.
Does counting bees really help?
Yes. Your sightings will be verified by experts and will help to reveal a picture of bee health across our towns, cities and countryside.
Amazingly, there are over 250 different species of bee in the UK and Ireland. As well as the honey bee (incidentally check out the Ethical Consumer’s report on the best honey to buy), bumblebees and solitary bees are crucial pollinators of many crops. Some are rare, like the shrill carder bee and the great yellow bumblebee. Some only occur in certain areas of the country, like the moss carder bee. Many bee populations are not well recorded, making it difficult to know how they are faring over time.
Last year over 100,000 bees were recorded during the Great British Bee Count. Want to know what that bumblebee was called you’ve just seen in your garden? Use the app to find out.
Why are bees important?
Bees pollinate 75% of our crops worldwide, including apples, strawberries and tomatoes. Without this free service provided by bees, UK farmers would have to pay £1.8 billion a year more to hand-pollinate crops. This is already happening in parts of China and India where bees have disappeared.
What’s happening to our bees?
Our bees in the UK need help. They've lost much of their natural habitat in the past 60 years, including 97% of wildflower meadows. They're also under assault from pesticides, intensive farming and climate change.
Cuckoo Bumblebee, photo credit: Amelia Collins
From campaigning for a ban on bee-harming pesticides and forcing the government to produce an action plan for bees, to encouraging people to create bee-friendly spaces, Friends of the Earth is at the forefront of the push to protect our precious pollinators in the UK. The Great British Bee Count is an important part of this.
What can I do to encourage more bees during the Bee Count?
To boost the chances of spotting bees during the Great British Bee Count there are lots of things you can do to get your garden, patio, window box or community space blooming just the way bees like it:
Take a look at 28 Great Plants for Bees - a seasonal guide to flowers, fruit, veg, herbs, trees and shrubs that are all great pollen and nectar sources for bees. Many can be grown in small spaces.
You don’t need a big garden – or a garden at all. Here are 6 inspiring projects helping bees in cities that show the huge potential to get urban areas buzzing, from community orchards to planting in the streets. Cities are increasingly important for bees - a recent University of Bristol study found more different species of bee in our cities than on our farmland.
For more ideas, have a look at 10 Easy Ways to Help Bees from Friends of the Earth and Ethical Consumer.
Wherever you are in the UK you can help to record the nation’s bees this May. It’s great fun. Let’s get a buzz going.
Take part in the Great British Bee Count 2016 - #greatbritishbeecount
Further reading: Special Report on Honey