Certainly Wood is part of an organisation called Made In Britain, which supports and promotes British manufacturing, helping buyers and consumers at home and abroad to identify British-made products. We thought it would a nice idea to feature some of the other members who are kindred spirits to ourselves – first up is Bee Good. We asked them to tell us more about the crisis facing bees and what we can all do to help.
What problems are bees facing in the world generally and the UK specifically?
Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are under severe pressure and their numbers are in decline across the developed world. There are many causes, but the main ones are loss of habitat (95% or more of all the UK’s meadows have disappeared since the 1940s), increased use of pesticides, pollution, as well as the introduction of non-native pests and diseases.
Climate change is also causing concern with flowers appearing earlier in the season each year, meaning that some key early season nectar sources are blooming when it’s still too cold for the insects to be able to fly out and collect them.
What impact will this have on the natural order of things and why are bees so important?
Virtually all flowering plants, shrubs and trees are completely dependent on insects to pollinate them so that they can produce fruit/seeds to create the next generation - that includes 75% of all our food crops. Of all the insects, bees are the most critical group in terms of pollinating plants efficiently and many species of bees have specially formed mouthparts that can penetrate certain flowers guaranteeing them a feed whilst ensuring that the plant gets pollinated.
As key habitats in the UK, such as chalk grasslands and ancient meadows, are dug up and turned over to agriculture, the accompanying specialist bees die out and, without them, it becomes difficult for the original plants to re-establish themselves in the future. All land-based life (including us) rely ultimately on plants that support complex food chains and they, in turn, rely on pollinators, so looking after our little buzzy friends is critical for our ultimate survival too.
How many different types of bees are there?
Around the world there are about 20,000 species of bees that we know of but more are being discovered all the time. Here in the UK, there are around 250 species of native bees.
Twenty-four of these are bumblebees, 225 are solitary bees and there is a single species of honeybee (yay!).
We know that at least two bumblebee species are now extinct and some of our solitary bee species are increasingly rare. Our native honeybees are under increasing threat from invasive pests and pathogens being brought in from elsewhere, and it’s now rare to find any feral colonies that last more than a year or two. It’s possible that honeybees could potentially die out too without the active management of beekeepers to look after them.
What can we Brits plant in our garden to encourage bees?
If you have access to a large amount of land, consider re-creating a wildflower meadow for the benefit of all the local wildlife.
Smaller spaces can easily accommodate a hazel or willow, which provide a great source of pollen for insects as they emerge in early spring.
Alternatively, a flowering ivy works really well as a last source of nectar before the insects hibernate in Autumn. All summer flowering herbs are great sources of nectar and will attract insects from far and wide into your garden, benefiting any vegetables or fruits you might be growing there too. Also, please don’t destroy any dandelions in your garden until they have finished flowering as they are fantastic food sources for all important pollinators.
What else can we do to help e.g. products to avoid etc.?
The UK Government recognises the importance of pollinating insects in underpinning the nation’s food security and has produced a strategy to protect our bees and other pollinators. They are actively encouraging farmers and land owners, including councils and the MOD, to create pollinator refuge spaces in field margins and other areas, particularly to allow wild bees to hibernate over winter. Many councils, and an increasing number of highway authorities, are also planting more native wildflowers in parks and verges. As citizens, you can lobby your local parish and district councils to create similar "pollinator places”, areas of native wildflowers left untreated over the year in the corners of public spaces.
Please don’t use pesticides in your own gardens and again lobby your local authorities to make sure that stop using pesticides on public spaces, especially the insidious and highly controversial neonicotinoids, which, even in tiny doses, seem responsible for damaging bees ability to navigate.
You can also encourage solitary bees into your garden by building a simple “bee hotel” that allows them to overwinter and then raise a new brood in the spring. They are perfectly harmless and some of the designs have clear sides allowing you to see the bees inside their nest holes.
What else is being done to ensure bees make a comeback?
The EU is considering draft regulations that would completely ban any insecticides that present a "high acute risk to bees” on all crops grown outdoors. That would have a huge impact on the agricultural sector and you can be sure that the pesticides companies will fight it all the way.
Please consider adding your voice to one of the many lobbying groups out there fighting to protect our environment and the bees that are so important to us all...
About Bee Good
Award-winning Bee Good makes wonderful skincare products using ingredients produced by British bees. These include propolis, honey and beeswax, which are nature’s own beauty range.
The Bee Good range is packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins and active enzymes, making them perfect for all skin types but particularly for mature skin that has a tendency to be drier. Bee Good also include British plant oils but avoid synthetic colours, mineral oil, silicone, SLS, SLES and parabens. And no bees are ever harmed during the production process.
They are a proud member of the Made in Britain community because their ethos is all about promoting the UK. As well as manufacturing their products in this country, wherever possible they source locally.
They also reinvest in British beekeeping causes, including sponsoring young bee farmers and inspiring people to create their own bee garden by including a packet of bee-friendly wildflower seeds with each order. With over 20 awards to their name, they’re proud to be consecutive winners of the UK’s largest industry award for ‘Best New Brand' 2015 and 2016. Bee Good - skincare solutions by British bees!
You can find out more at www.beegood.co.uk.