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Why bees are in trouble and what you can do

Bees are one of the most hardest working creatures on our planet, they play a critical role in keeping us alive and I don’t think they get the credit they deserve.

There are more than 250 species of bee in Britain and I’ve decided to delve a little deeper and find out why these incredible creatures are so incredible.

Pollination

When in comes to pollination, bees are vital. Some plants rely on wind to pollinate and others rely on insects, this is where bees do their bit. They are constantly hunting for nectar (they use this to make honey) and spend a lot of time flying around from flower to flower. This allows them to collect pollen from one plant and deposit it on other plants and this is how bees help with pollination.

Crop fertilisation

Crops in the UK such as vegetables, berries and fruits rely on bee pollinations. There are about 60 – 70 different crops that rely on bee pollination including apples, broccoli, cucumbers, watermelon to name just a few.

Bees are in trouble

Due to climate change, the bee population are in decline and the increased use of pesticides doesn’t help either. Climate change is affecting the global temperature which is throwing our seasons out of sync and having a knock-on effect on wildlife too. Bees are coming out of hibernation before flowers have started blooming. As they rely on flowers for their nectar, there isn’t enough food for them to survive. Pesticides are another big issue and they are used to keep pests off our food preventing them from damaging our crops.

Some of these pesticides actually make insects ill including bees. On one side crops need to be protected for food but on the other hand, these pesticides are harming the insects we rely on to help pollinate our food.

Bees are declining, what could happen?

If the bee population continue to decline, what do you think will happen?

  • Plants that rely on bee pollination will decline if there aren’t enough bees to pollinate them
  • If plants decline, the animals that rely on these plants for food will also start declining. Especially, if the animal solely relies on a particular plant for survival
  • The farming community will have to find a way to pollinate their crops manually. The cost of this could run into the billions
  • As we rely on bee pollination for fruit and vegetables, these will be in decline too. The pressure on food supplies will be high.

The term ‘circle of life’ is exactly that, when there is a break in the circle, it stops becoming a circle.

You can help

If you have an outside space, big or small, turn it into a flower and vegetable garden and avoid using pesticides.

Grow flowers – especially purple flowers, they see this colour more clearly than any other – lavender, alliums and catmint. If you’ve already got flowers in your garden that aren’t purple, keep them! They’ll love them too. I grow sunflowers in mine and the bees love it.

A little vegetable garden is also a good idea; tomatoes, strawberries or even some herbs. Go nuts!

Say No To Balloons

When you think of balloons, you think of party and celebration. No child’s birthday celebration, young or old, is complete without balloons. The different sizes, colours, shapes bring joy to people. Not only do we gift them for birthdays, but for new births, when someone is recovering, christenings. Balloons can be used at a time of sadness too. Releasing balloons allows us to show respect for our loved ones who have departed, you can’t deny that the way the balloons rise into the sky is quite grateful. However, releasing balloons like this has a downside, it hurts the environment and wildlife.

We need to say no to balloon releases

Whenever we’re at a party, friends and family tend to give my 4-year-old a balloon at the end of the night. I won’t lie, the smile it brings to her face fills me with joy, however, deep down I’m thinking ‘how on earth am I going to dispose of that’. There’s no part of it that can be recycled; the balloon, the ribbon or the weight. Although, there are some balloons on the market that claim they are biodegradable, they can usually take years to fully decompose and the damage done in the meantime can last longer than the balloon.

Reasons why we should start saying no to balloons

They are harmful to wildlife

We’ve seen it on TV and David Attenborough has told us that certain wildlife will mistake a floating carrier bag or balloon for food. Turtles will mistake them for Jellyfish. Once ingested, the damage this does to them internally can lead to starvation. The string attached to the balloons cause just as much damage. The string be ingested or wrap itself around a marine animal’s neck, eventually choking them to death. If the choking doesn’t kill them, the cuts to their skin caused by the string can cause infections and will probably kill them.

It’s littering

If you think about it, a balloon release is an accepted form of littering. You would never dream of leaving all your rubbish on the grass after a picnic (normal people wouldn’t) and sensible people would clean up after themselves but when a balloon is released and disappears from view, what goes up must come down. Where do you think it’s going to land? On a farm? In a river? If the release is by the sea, it almost certainly will end up in the ocean.

There’s a helium shortage

I was a little shocked when I found out there was a shortage and even more shocked at what helium is used for aside balloons. Helium is used in other (more important) areas of business and exploration; inside MRI Scanners, as a cooling agent for the Large Hadron Collider, it’s used in space exploration as a cooling agent for equipment and even by deep sea divers. I’m a little surprised in light of this, why the sale of helium isn’t more restricted? I hope you would agree that these other uses are more vital that filling up a balloon for a party.

What can you use instead?

Balloon releases – can be replaced by releasing flowers into the sea, or even planting a tree. Planting a tree in a quiet place can be somewhere you can come for time on your own to think and think about your loved one. They may no longer be with you but their memory will.

Alternatives to balloon releases

Birthday Parties / celebrations – Paper chains are really easy to make and your little one(s) can get involved too. Paper flowers are a really good way of adding colour to a party, there are oodles of videos on youtube to choose from and when the party is over, they can be given to the guests as they leave as memento. There’s nothing wrong with using the traditional banners, bunting and decorations you can buy on the high street and storing them in the wrappers they came in. However, the key is to not purchase decorations with a number on them, this way they can be used over and over again. Trust me, no one is going to think “Weren’t they the same banners at Wendy’s birthday last year?’

For a treat, I take my 4-year-old to McDonald’s and I recently started to explain why she shouldn’t accept a balloon when it is offered by one of the employees, my daughter now says ‘no thank you’ and it makes me so proud. It doesn’t seem to bother her that she’s not getting a colourful balloon as long as she’s got ketchup with her chips, all is good in the world.

By using alternatives to balloons, it allows you to be creative and the whole family can join in to make the day special. You’d be surprised how much stuff you already have around the house for materials.

By saying no to balloons, you are protecting the environment and wildlife too.