No survival without bees

Albert Einstein already knew:

"If the bee disappears from the earth, humans have only four years to live: No more bees, no pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more humans."

Around 560 different local wild bee species together with the well-known honey bee ensure diversity in nature and on our plates. They pollinate the vast majority of wild and cultivated plants and thus help them to bloom and fruit.

A study quantifies the added value of wild bees - to say the "gross bee product":

The pollination performance of wild bees contributes on average 2900 euros per hectare to agricultural production, while honey bee colonies add 2600 euros per hectare in value. In total, the monetary value of insects in Europe is 14 billion euros a year. A large proportion of this value is accounted for by wild bees.

 

Wild bees

feel most comfortable on flower meadows, on the edges of forests, in gardens and in green settlement areas. There they are constantly looking for food and nesting opportunities, including holes in dead wood, mud walls or sand.

Unfortunately, many of these possibilities have been lost in our modern world.

And that's exactly what the wild bees have to struggle with.

Threats

The nesting possibilities of wild bees are becoming increasingly rare as areas are sealed and dead wood is removed.

 

Monocultures in agriculture and gardens reduce the food supply for bees. Green lawn is also a monoculture.

The use of plant protection products (pesticides) not only kills "pests", but also many bees. These toxins affect the insects' nervous system, their natural sense of orientation, and reduce their lifespan and reproduction.

The permanent over-fertilization through the use of artificial fertilizer and the nitrogen oxides, which are caused by the car traffic, lead to a catastrophic impoverishment of the variety of flowers.

 

Many wild bee species are highly specialized in certain habitats and food plants. Spring velvet bees, for example, prefer willow flowers, ivy silk bees specialize in ivy flowers and poppy bees are dependent on poppies. Other types of wild bees, such as mason bees, are not picky, they fly to all the flowers in the vicinity of their nesting sites.

While honeybees fly 3-10 kilometers, the flight radius of wild bees is only 50-300 meters. This means that the nesting opportunities must be close to the forage plants.

we can help wild bees

Bees need flowers

But not all flowers are suitable. Only plants with unfilled flowers help bees. Double flowers, such as Geraniums, cultivated dahlias or garden chrysanthemums are decorative but offer little or no food for the bees.

For example, lavender, thyme, various fruit trees or stone clover are more suitable. You can find a detailed overview of bee-friendly plants here: Bee-friendly plants

Beekeepers

Especially on hot days, wild bees find it difficult to find suitable water points.

With a flat container like a clay bowl, it is very easy to build a potions for bees.

Fill the bowl with water and place stones and some moss in it as landing spots for the bees.

Two thirds of all wild bees nest underground

These wild bees need sunny, preferably slightly sandy spots with sparse vegetation, which make digging easy for the animals. There they build brood tubes and lay their eggs individually in brood cells. Such "sand islands" can be created well in extensively used garden areas.

Bee hotel

With so-called “bee hotels”, we make it easier for bees to survive for generations. You can build bee hotels yourself or buy them in various shops.

But there are a number of things to consider both when buying and when building a beehive!

You can find out why you should never use softwood, why pine cones are out of place in the bee hotel and why straw even harms the bees here.

There are also building instructions for a bee hotel.

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Photo credits:

Bumblebee on poppy: Josef Pichler, bee on flax herb: Viktoria Michel, lawn mower: USA travel blogger, bumble bee in flight: Woodypino, bee and fruit tree blossom: Sven Lachmann, bee potions: Uncle Ramirez, bee on sand: AxxLC, bee hotel: Ralph