0 How bee friendly is your garden? -Great British Bee Count 2015

RS10100 cuckoo bumble bee1Gardeners are being urged to see how bee-friendly their garden or allotment is by taking part in the Great British Bee Count 2015.

Organised by Friends of the Earth, Buglife and Waitrose, the Great British Bee Count, which is taking place throughout (1-31) May, aims to build on the huge success of last year's inaugural event.

Gardeners are also being encouraged to take easy steps to make their gardens more bee-friendly this spring (see below), and help provide crucial habitats for our threatened pollinators.

Allotments (with an average of 12 bees spotted per count) and gardens (8) were two of the top three most popular habitats in last year's bee count - with the countryside (10) being the third.

A staggering 23,000 people took part in the bee count last year - which featured on BBC's Springwatch - spotting more than 830,000 bees. This year's event promises to be even better - and easier to take part, with exciting new features.

As bee populations continue to decline a national picture is needed to help inform scientists and government policy. The Great British Bee Count aims to provide an annual picture of national bee populations while also raising awareness of bee diversity.

The data can be easily recorded via the free smartphone app. To find out more about the event, including how to take part, click here.

Gardeners can take simple steps to make their gardens and allotments more attractive to bees.

Top bee-friendly garden tips include:

- Planting nectar and pollen rich flowers:

  • Purple flowers: Bees see purple better than any other colour, so fill your garden with plants like lavender, bugles and borage.
  • Tubular-shaped flowers: Tubular-shaped flowers, like lupins and foxgloves, provide a good landing place for bees to feed.
  • Herbs: Feed yourself and the bees too with a herb garden that includes plants such as rosemary, chives and thyme.

- Bees love dandelions and clover - so why not allow some to grow on your lawn?

- Make your own bee hotel to attract pollinators: here

- Provide a clean source of water with a shallow bowl with a few pebbles for the bees to land on.

- Avoid using pesticides. They have been linked to the decline in our bees.

Friends of the Earth Nature Campaigner Sandra Bell said:

"Discover how bee-friendly your garden is by taking part in the Great British Bee Count 2015 - it's fun, informative and easy to take part.
"Bees are the gardener's friend, pollinating their fruit and flowers. With a little effort, more of our gardens and allotments could become crucial havens for these under-threat pollinators."

Paul Hetherington, Director of Communications, Buglife said:

"Increasingly, our gardens are becoming key habitats for bees as development pressure eats into urban green space. The Great British Bee Count is a fun way to engage in the challenge of making our environment more pollinator friendly."

Head of Sustainability at Waitrose, Quentin Clark said:

"Waitrose is committed to protecting and enhancing pollinators like bees - through our own agricultural policies, through funding research, and through initiatives such as our work to provide schools with 'Grow and Sell ' kits containing bee-friendly seeds.

"We have been part of the work with Defra on the development of the National Pollinator Strategy and this summer will see the promotion of pollinator friendly plants in our shops as part of the Bees' Needs Campaign. Our partners take real pride in supporting the environment and we are delighted to support this year's Great British Bee Count with Friends of the Earth."

Bee expert Professor Dave Goulson, of the University of Sussex, said:

"It is fantastic that the Great British Bee Count got 23,000 people out looking at our wild bees last year, let's hope for even more in 2015. The idea of including photo uploads this year is really important as it will allow the records to be checked by experts."

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