Five Ways To Help Pollinators
April 25, 2019
Catherine Mercer is the Bee Together project officer at Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust – a scheme that aims to connect communities and landscapes to reverse the decline of wild pollinators such as bees.
Here, as we head into spring, she suggests five useful tips that could help preserve these vital species.
Roll back the clock and a Yorkshire Dales summer would be buzzing with the sound of bees amongst the wildflower meadows and moorland that was once characteristic of the area.
Bees and other pollinators have long been the signature sight and sound of a warm summers day as they busily forage for pollen and nectar provided by meadow flowers, bilberry plants and heather.
However, in the future you may be lucky to experience such a sight as a recent global review suggests that some insect populations could collapse within the next century. Meanwhile, the State of Nature report says that 60 per cent of bees and other pollinators, such as flies and butterflies, are in decline in the UK.
Pollinators and other insects face a wide range of threats, from toxic pesticides to climate change, but the most significant reason for their decline is habitat loss.
Many of us are guilty of thinking nobody would really miss a midge or a wasp, were they to disappear. But insects are the cornerstone of environmental networks and each and every one plays an important role in ecosystem function.
Pollinators, for example, play a vital part in plant reproduction, food webs and even food production. In fact, it is estimated that around one third of our food requires pollinators in order to grow.
This impending ‘insect apocalypse’ is enough to make anybody feel like all is lost. However, many individuals and organisations are working together to take action and help save insects. From small, personal actions to nationwide campaigns, it is possible to reverse insect population declines.
One project hoping to do just that is Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s Bee Together Project.
It brings people together between Leeds and Lancaster to take action for pollinators through engagement, education and practical conservation work.
One way of getting involved is to make simple changes to help out pollinators and other insects. Try out some of the suggestions below – we would love to hear about any ways, big or small, that you’re helping out insects.
Five easy things you can do to help pollinators and other insects:
- Let Your Garden Go Wild: Say no to the lawnmower and leave some of your grass uncut all year round to provide cover for insects. Leave compost heaps, bare earth and cut stems undisturbed to create nesting sites for solitary bees and other insects such as ladybirds.
- Grow Pollinator Friendly Plants: The best pollinator gardens include a mixture of plants for a mixture of bee species. Most plants that are great for pollinators are clearly labelled as such in the garden centre. Try including early and late flowering plants such as lavender, ivy or mahonia to support pollinators throughout the year.
- Go Organic: Organic farms or those that use pesticides sparingly have been shown to support more insects than industrial scale, intensive agriculture. Even better, try growing your own organic fruit and vegetables at home, or share an allotment plot with friends.
- Sow A ‘Mini-Meadow’: Create a native wildflower meadow in your own garden. Read our factsheet to find out how to Create a wildflower lawn or meadow or watch our instructional videos here: www.ydmt.org/what-we-do/bee-together/get-involved
- Write To Your MP: Add your voice to the mix and let your local MP know that pollinators are worth protecting.
Tell us how you’re lending insects a helping hand by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org