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To Bee or not to Bee?

It’s now a well known fact that our bees are in trouble. Some people think this simply means that we’ll have less honey…..what it actually means is that we’ll have less food, including fruit, vegetables, nuts, juice, herbs and the really scary one – tea and coffee. Imagine that – a morning without your coffee!

The thing is, this problem is actually very serious. David Attenborough himself has been quoted as saying “If bees were to disappear from the face of the earth, humans would have just 4 years left to live”.  Now imagine that – some think of us humans as being the ultimate species on this earth; in fact we are mere morsels compared to these little guys.

So what happened? Why have our bees started to decline at such a rapid rate that 1 in 10 of Europe’s wild bee species are facing extinction? It’s the same old story – habitat loss is a key reason why bees are struggling. In a mere 73 years we’ve lost 97% of our wildflower meadows, leaving our bees with little natural habitat for nesting and not enough flowers to forage and pollinate.

Climate change, pesticides, pests, disease and invasive species such as the Asian Hornet are all bad news for our bees.

We have 250 solitary bee species – only 1 species of honey bee and 25 bumble bee species. Solitary bees are not social (they do not live in colonies but some will nest near each other), they don’t have a queen to protect and they don’t swarm. Therefore, they tend to be more docile than honey bees and don’t trouble you at picnics unlike wasps. They live, as their name suggests, alone. In a hole….this might sound depressing to us, but to a solitary bee it’s heaven! The problem is, we humans don’t like holes. We find a hole in our nice concrete wall boarding our nice tarmacked driveway and we fill it in. We’ve all become a bit too obsessed with things looking smart, streamlined, modern and minimalistic. We don’t have the time to look after flowers or mow the grass, but we still like things to look ‘pretty’ so we get fake grass and fake flowers.

Take a look at this;

Bee bricks within stone wall

Smart, streamlined, modern and minimal. Also pretty (yes that’s real grass). This is a solitary bees habitat.

Take a closer look;

Bee bricks in wall

 

Spot them now? Three bee bricks are in this photo under the branch of the stone tree. Green & Blue in Perranporth design and supply these bee bricks (along with bird feeders, houses, seeds etc) and we think they are wonderful. They provide such a simple concept into design, enabling us humans to still have the very much sought after modern day look but most importantly, they are providing a habitat for a species which is in such fast decline it’s frightening.

Bee bricks close up shot

CEC encourages wild flower planting (or pollinator planting) on new developments whenever feasible. We’ve had huge success with this type of approach including the Langarth Park & Ride in Truro. This site now has more biodiversity than it did when just a empty field, which is incredible considering it’s now a car park. This is thanks to a clever and innovative landscape design approach, which includes retention of existing hedgerows and trees, pollinator planting schemes and ecological mitigation to enhance and protect existing habitats. More plants, more insects, more birds, more mammals, more biodiversity.

Simples.

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