Why I'm supporting the Great British Bee Count
There's something about bees we can't resist. Since Friends of the Earth launched its Bee Cause campaign in 2012, we've learned just how significantly bees are under threat. This has inspired individuals all over the country to take small actions to help bees, including easy ways to make our gardens bee-friendly. This passion for our precious pollinators has captured the wider public's interest - so now it's not unusual to see shops selling anything from bee-themed cushions to artwork.
But why do we have a soft spot for bees in particular? We asked some of our supporters.
Amber Felce is a green beauty blogger from Northamptonshire. She is also the founder of Nectar and Bumble – a bee-themed gifts and beauty online store that donates 10% of its profits to Friends of the Earth.
I took part in the Great British Bee Count last year as I love going on days out looking for bees, or spotting them buzzing around my garden. I thought it would be great to enter all the bees I've seen onto the app on my phone, to help with research.
I always remember my first bee sighting of the year. Last year it was at Stowe Landscape Gardens – a huge bumblebee buzzing around a tree among a few Honey bees too.
I try to grow many flowers in my garden throughout the year. As bees are often active from early spring right through to autumn, it's important they find flowers to feed on.
I also encourage my friends and family to take part in the Great British Bee Count and I often get texts with photos of bees, or asking for advice on how to help a tired bee on the ground!
Knowing my bee sightings are contributing to research which could help to save bees, encourages me to do everything I can.
Laz Jacob is a digital campaigner from London and has taken part in the Great British Bee Count for several years.
I’m very technical and always using my phone, so it was great to actually use it for a good cause. I’ve been doing the Count for a few years now and every year the app gets easier to use. It’s really simple and very user-friendly.
One of the nicest things about taking part was spotting different species of bees. When you’re identifying them, it’s a bit like reading a mini encyclopaedia of bees.
Sometimes with environmental campaigns, the subject can seem quite abstract but this is such a brilliant tangible thing you can do. You can get really up close and get first-hand experience of the species you’re trying to save.
Brenda Moody is from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. A keen gardener, taking part in the Great British Bee Count has made Brenda more aware of pesticides, what to plant and of the benefits of different insects.
We’ve done the Great British Bee Count for a couple of years now. It’s definitely made us learn about all kinds of bees. They are so important. We have an allotment and a reasonable-sized garden and are aware of how reliant we are on insects, mostly bees, for pollination.
The Great British Bee Count has made me look things up. Sometime you only catch a quick glimpse of them, so it can be hard to spot which one is which. But it’s good fun. The app looks nice and I've told lots of people about it too.
My grandson is now also interested in bees. The other day he was out in the garden with a magnifying glass. He found a bee that I’d not seen before. I shared it on Facebook with the hope of getting more people interested.
If I see plants that bees like, I make sure to protect them. There is a particular kind of geranium that is always smothered in Honey bees. I don’t buy double flowers any more, as single varieties are better for bees.
Something I didn’t know… I assumed all bees were social but most of them are solitary and tiny wasps are actually beneficial as pollinators too.
John Oxley is from Doncaster, South Yorkshire. When he’s not working, he spends a lot of time outdoors in his allotment and walking his dogs. He took part in last year’s Great British Bee Count.
I have an interest in bees because of the work they do and it’s nice to do something active to help them survive. Taking part in the Great British Bee Count becomes part of your day. As soon as you hear a buzz, you get your phone out to take a picture.
I saw a Leafcutter bee one day on a rose, I actually saw it cutting a leaf. It has been interesting to learn more about the bees I've seen. Now I have a poster of bees so I can identify different species.
We try and do our best to provide them with a safe habitat, and grow a few plants for them to feed on. They like things such as lavender, daffodils, marigolds, tulips, roses, apple blossom and the flowers on borlotti and broad beans.
Fiona Tavner is a Friends of the Earth local group member from Oxford. She is heavily involved in campaigning to protect bees across Oxfordshire and has taken part in the Great British Bee Count for the past 3 years.
I used to be a research scientist so I’ve always had a natural curiosity about insects. I studied zoology and genetics at university.
I like that the Great British Bee Count is a citizen science project. Knowing that you’re generating data about the pollinators in your area is great. What is evident from the government and voluntary sector’s work is that we’re lacking data.
Everyone can get involved with citizen science, from kids to older people. All you need is a phone, some curiosity and to get out there and open your eyes!
I’ve now got a greater appreciation of the incredible diversity of bees. Most people focus on bumblebees as they’re big and fluffy – but there are also lots of different kinds of solitary bees. And there are also other pollinators as well as bees, like hoverflies.
I’m slowly making my own garden more bee-friendly. I’ve got apple trees and I’m planting wildflowers, beans and courgettes. Ivy flowers around September and is really good for bees at that time of year.
Meg Passey from London is the Girl Guides District Commissioner of London and the South East. She took part in the Great British Bee Count last year after hearing about it from her son.
I took part in the Bee Count because I want to protect our native wildlife. I also appreciate the huge impact that bees dying will have on the food chain. To help our bees, I’ve put Bee Boxes in my garden and planted bee-friendly plants, including herbs.
I spotted bees at home in my garden, and while walking my dogs. I also encouraged the Rainbows and Brownies to do the Great British Bee Count at home.
Since taking part in the Great British Bee Count, my girls have begun to appreciate the number of different bees and what they can do in their own gardens to help and encourage the bees.
I’ve always known how valuable bees are – not just in my own garden pollinating plants – but I also find myself looking for them more now. I know they are endangered and dying due to our use of pesticides, habitat loss and climate change.