It would cost the UK £1.8 billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees – 20% more than previously thought – according to research by Friends of the Earth, part of a new campaign to save the bee.
The new figure – which would inevitably be passed on to consumers in rising food costs – comes from research conducted by leading bee experts at the University of Reading on behalf of the environment charity as it launches The Bee Cause to call for action on bees before it’s too late.
In recent years Britain has lost over half the honey bees kept in managed hives and wild honey bees are nearly extinct. Solitary bees are declining in more than half the areas they’ve been studied and some species of bumblebee have been lost altogether.
Bees and other pollinating insects are responsible for most of our favourite fruit and vegetables. One reason for their decline is a shortage of natural habitats, so Friends of the Earth has outlined simple steps people can take in their gardens to help provide it:
To support this action and find out what else you can do to help bees
Late summer is an ideal time to plant bee-friendly plants and flowers in your garden, particularly those which will flower into the autumn and over the winter, providing much needed food sources for bees during the winter months.
• Sow bee-friendly seeds and plant bee-friendly flowers in your garden such as mixed wildflowers packets, single-flowering roses, open and flat-headed flowers like verbena and yarrow and tubular-shaped flowers such as foxgloves.
• Create a place to nest for solitary bees by piling together hollow stems and creating a ‘bee hotel’.
• Try to provide a small amount of rainwater in a shallow birdbath or tray which honeybees need to keep their hive at the right temperature.

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