Today is #WorldBeeDay . No better day to celebrate a creature that has made its way into many of our prints as a small running theme. Little did we know that when we first designed our Dark Floral Opulence collection and decided to throw a tiny little bumblebee into our ‘Midnight Tangle’ print that we would unknowingly make a habit of adding this bee to at least 1 print in our 2 collections after DFO.
The honeybee has become somewhat of a small feature in our designs, and we were excited to find out that today was a day to celebrate all things great about the bee. Since our prints have heavy inspiration drawn from botanical sources and nature, we feel its only right to take a moment to think and be aware of how you can support the bees!
What Is World Bee Day?
On December 20, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution declaring 20 May as World Bee Day. The resolution was co-sponsored by 115 UN Member States, with the aim to raise public awareness and attention around the world to the importance of protecting and preserving bees and other pollinators.
Why Do Bees Matter?
Honeybees are a primary pollinator of plants, including crops, fruits and vegetables. Our diets rely greatly on the work that bees do – in addition to the honey and wax bees produce themselves.
Sadly certain pesticides have been used in the past that affected bees negatively, although more recently governments have begun to ban such chemicals.
Bees are also susceptible to diseases and parasites. American or European Foulbrood can destroy a hive and, if unchecked, can spread between multiple hives.
However, varroa mites are the most common health problem for bees – a parasite which attaches to a bee larva and stays with it, sucking its blood and reducing its lifespan and effectiveness to the colony.
In recent years new treatments have been released to treat for varroa, some of which are easy to use and very effective.
What Can You Do?
You may not be a beekeeper but you can still help bees.
Some may panic when they see bees buzzing around them – bees have a painful sting after all. But bees have very little interest in people and the breeds of honeybee in the UK are not aggressive. Flying bees are looking for plants (or sometimes water), but they can become confused and attracted by some sweet smells like perfume – or particularly honey! If you are afraid of bees, move away from where they are flying rather than swatting at them, you are much less likely to be stung.
Bees live for the hive, and once they are mature enough to fly away to forage they do all they can to collect pollen. By planting the right kinds of plants, you can attract bees to your garden or window box. Here are a few examples:
- Lavender – Instantly identifiable, lavender has an iconic colour and scent, and is attractive to bees – not least because bees see purple more clearly than any other colour. Blooms from June to August.
- Marjoram – Studies from the University of Sussex have found Marjoram to be the most popular plant for all pollinators including bumble and honeybees, hover flies, and butterflies and moths. Closely related to oregano, marjoram is a herb which is used fresh to add a delicate flavour to Greek or Italian dishes. Sow and grow inside until early summer and then move it outside to a sunny, sheltered spot.
- Ivy – Often seen more as a pest that strangles trees and wrecks flower beds, evergreen ivy actually provides bees with much of their pollen and nectar in its flowering autumn months when bees build up their winter stores and other sources are in decline.
- Borage Blue – A plant with beautiful looking flowers, very popular with honeybees. The flowers can be used to decorate summer drinks and puddings, freeze in ice cubes, or even wilt the leaves for pasta sauce. Plant after the last date of frost in a herb or flower garden, ideally near strawberries to attract bees and increase your fruit yield.
- Rhododendron – A hardy plant flowering in spring, very pleasing to the eye and a favourite among bees. There is a large variety of Rhododendrons, but Marcel Menard is a particularly good choice to attract bees with its pollen rich, purple coloured flowers.