Bees and apples have a symbiotic relationship. Bees pollinate the flowers, allowing the fruit to grow – good news for the cider companies – and the apple trees themselves provide pollen and nectar early in the year, which is great for the bees as it gives them food. In the UK, 70% of our food crops are pollinated by bees, so they are crucial in our society.
However the population of bees has been greatly affected by the use of pesticides and other chemicals in agriculture. Of the 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, two have become extinct in the past 80 years and solitary bees are declining in numbers – mostly due to habitat loss.
There are many ways different people are trying to combat this loss of bees. For example, some apple farmers are spraying their orchards with insecticides and fungicides at night, rather than day, to keep them away from the bees. Also, Thatcher’s cider has pledged to provide habitats for bumblebees and have enacted a scheme whereby in planting wild flower seeds, they hope to attract rare species of bees that can pollinate flowers in the cooler springs the country has grown accustomed to.
Bee populations can also be helped in your own garden. By each planting a few flowers or shrubs that produce nectar and pollen we can provide food and shelter for Britain’s bumblebees. Also, there are many bee hotels commercially available, or you could create your own from scrap wood and sticks.
So we can see how fundamental bees are to our food (and drink!) industries and why it is so important we protect them. For more information on how you can help bees visit this website http://beekind.bumblebeeconservation.org/finder, and see how you can get involved today.