A bee expert is urging nature lovers to set up ‘highway service stations’ for bees in their gardens and planters.
British bees have suffered greatly over the past fifty years due to changes in land use due to modern agricultural methods, urban sprawl and the expansion of transport infrastructure.
There has been a 60% reduction in the number of bees since 2004, and one of the main factors in this loss is that bees find it difficult to move to other habitable areas – which is vital for their survival.
Paul Hetherington is an activist with the invertebrate conservation charity Buglifewho is at the origin of the B-Lines project aiming to create a series of “insect paths” crossing our countryside and our cities.
He says planting bee-friendly flowers in gardens allows bees to refuel when they migrate, such as highway services.
“Anyone can get involved, even if they’re just a gardener,” Paul said. “If you have more land, you can turn your lawn into a meadow.”
In the UK, pollinating insects bring an estimated £690m to the economy every year, according to a study by the University of Reading.
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But they die. Massive declines in numbers are underway, largely due to human activity.
In January, a global study found that since 1990, a quarter of all bee species known to science – totaling around 20,000 – have not been seen, despite improvements and expansion of monitoring efforts.
And this year, the UK government said it would allow the use of neonicotinoid pesticideswhose use has been linked to pollinator population crashes, and are banned in the European Union.
Mr Hetherington added: “We are looking at a very bleak picture. They are trapped in isolated pockets, which put them in danger if something catastrophic happens.
Advice on the best flowers to plant to help bees can be found on the RHS website here.
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