Plant flowers in your garden
One of the simplest and most important things we can do to help bees is to make sure they can always find a source of food.
This is why it is important to plant flowers or plants that provide the right nourishment not only for bees, but also for bumblebees, butterflies and ladybirds.
One idea is to plant aromatic plants in the garden or on the terrace: bees feed on the flowers, while you can use the leaves to add flavour to your dishes! The bees’ favourite herbs are lavender, rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, chives, mallow, dill, coriander and cumin.
If you prefer something more colourful and lively, you can plant various flowers such as marigold, tulips, borage, sunflowers, phlox and many more.
... or trees!
If, on the other hand, you have plenty of space, you could consider planting fruit trees: not only will they provide the necessary food in spring, but they will also provide a valuable habitat in which to take refuge. Among the best trees are classic fruit trees such as cherry, almond, peach, apricot, apple and pear trees. Hazel, coriander and Japanese loquat are also good alternatives: flowering in winter, they provide a source of food at a time of year when bees have fewer resources.
Leave some water on the balcony
Bees also need to drink. You can fill a shallow bowl with a few fingers of clean water if you want to leave some available for the insects (and birds too). Place some stones and pebbles in the bowl to act as a base for the bees so that they do not drown. Bees communicate with each other, so if you keep the water source stable, they will come back to you!
But remember to change the water very often (once or twice a week) to avoid the proliferation of mosquitoes!
It is very important not to sugar water. White sugar is not made for bees as it does not contain the nutrients they need. The bees will come back many times when they find a source of sugar, but they do not know that it is not a suitable source of protein for them, which will eventually lead them to starve or eat their own larvae.
Opening a Bee-Hotel
There are around 20,000 species of bees, but only those of the species ‘apis mellifera’ are domesticated and produce honey. A large proportion of wild bees are solitary and are just as important for pollination. These bees live in small spaces such as small holes in the ground, in trees or inside hollow stems.
These bee-hotels are artificial shelters that simulate the nesting and wintering places of bees and other pollinators and become homes for these insects that, due to deforestation and urbanisation, do not always have a place to live.
You can buy one already made or build one yourself from natural and recycled materials such as wood, pine cones, dry logs, bark and bamboo canes.
With one of these hotels, depending on the materials used and the size of the crevices, you can easily attract solitary bees, butterflies, ladybirds and other useful insects to your garden.
Let grass grow in your garden
For the same reason as above, another way to help bees is to leave some land uncultivated. Bees don’t need humans, so one of the best ways to help them is to leave them to their own devices! Even a seemingly harmless action like mowing the lawn can actually have a big impact on the ecosystem. Leaving areas uncultivated will not only allow insects to find a place to build their own shelter, but will also allow the growth of wild plants that are beneficial to their well-being!
Do not use pesticides
If you have a vegetable garden, do not use fertilisers and chemicals.
Synthetic pesticides, fertilisers and herbicides are harmful to bees (and many other insects): they damage the bee’s central nervous system, causing paralysis and death.
To fertilise, you can use natural solutions such as compost or organic products and insects that keep pests away, such as ladybirds! All you need to do is plant some plants at the edge of the garden that will attract them, such as marigold, dandelion, geranium, but also lots of herbs!
Eat local, seasonal and organic food
This may seem off-topic, but climate change is also killing bees. They are not used to such sudden changes in the weather so adopting a more carbon-neutral lifestyle is a step in the right direction!
Eating local produce means less C02 emissions in the transport of food to your table, and eating fruit and vegetables in season reduces the use of fertilisers and heated greenhouses for out-of-season vegetable production. Consuming food in season also helps bees to find plants to feed on when they need it most.
Last but not least, favouring organic rather than intensively farmed food helps support farms that make very little (or no) use of synthetic products, which we have seen are one of the main causes of bee population decline.
Talk to everyone!
It is important to spread awareness about important issues such as environmental protection and climate change.
Not talking about it is a sign of disinterest, and it is only by showing how much we care about the future not only of bees, but of the whole planet, that we will see a change.
You can write to politicians or their regional representatives, sign petitions to ban harmful pesticides or just share this article with your friends.
You can also join environmental organisations such as Greenpeace, WWF or Legambiente.