The following simple steps can help you create a wild habitat that supports bees and other insect pollinators.
- Choose bee-friendly plants, for example, basil, borage, chives, mint, lavender, oregano, sage, thyme. Find more here.
- Choose the plants with the longest flowering cycles or those that flower more than once, such as agapanthus, delphinium, geranium, hollyhock and lavender.
- Try to place multiple plants together to create a wider area for bees and pollinators. If you're able to plan one square metre of the same plant together, this will help attract bees and other insect pollinators. Just one bee-friendly plant on its own will make a big difference though, so don't worry if you're short on space.
- Provide some fresh water. A bird bath, a small dish, even a bottle top with a small volume of water in will help.
- Leave your plants to flower, and when the flowers have dried de-head them so they can flower again.
- Let flowering weeds grow, such as clover, dandelions, milkweed and goldenrod.
- Check any chemicals you use on your garden to ensure they do not contain bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides. Stop using neonicotinoid pesticides such as Provado and Bugclear (UK) and other chemical pesticides in your garden. Read more about neonicotinoid pesticides below.
- Donate to EJF and help support our work to save bees and other pollinators.
- Why not take a picture of the actions you have taken to help save bees and pollinators and share it on our Facebook or Twitter to inspire others to do the same?
- Support Britain's bees and sign our Bee Happy pledge.
Neonicotinoid pesticides were first introduced in the 1990s and now account for one third of the global insecticide market. In the UK they are used on crops including potato, sugar beet, cereals, oilseed rape, fruit, vegetables, ornamental plants, tree nurseries, lawns and seeds for export, and are commonly applied as a seed coating, foliar spay or soil drench.
The pesticide moves into the tissues of the growing plant, making all parts toxic to any insect eating it. Applying neonicotinoids directly to seeds was designed to ensure that only creatures eating the crop would be exposed, which in theory is an improvement over spraying pesticides across the field. However, research has shown that neonicotinoids are now contaminating the wider environment and potentially affecting a variety of wildlife. Pollen and nectar become contaminated, toxic dust is emitted when seeds are drilled into the ground, a substantial proportion of the pesticide is lost into the soil, where it accumulates and remains for years. Chemicals are also found in high quantities in water systems.
Much research has focused on the impacts of neonicotinoids on bees and other pollinating insects. Even the minute amounts of neonicotinoids found in the pollen and nectar of flowering crops can affect the behaviour of bees in ways that threaten their ability to survive and reproduce.
You can protect bees and other insect pollinators in your garden, on your balcony, allotment or in your window boxes or hanging baskets, by choosing not to use any chemicals which contain bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides on your plants.
How do you know if a product contains neonicotinoid chemicals?
The Pesticides Action Network UK (PAN UK) has compiled a list of products currently approved for use in the UK that may be available to purchase by the general public.