20.05.23 is World Bee Day

In Europe, about 150 different crop species and around 80 percent of wild plants depend on insect pollination. The monetary value of insect pollination in Europe alone is over 14 billion Euros per year. If you like strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, raspberries and many other vegetables, fruits and berries, you should also care about the protection of wild bees! Because, unfortunately, there has long been a concerning trend that wild bee populations are declining: since 1990, 25% of all wild bee species have disappeared.

The causes of the current bee and insect die-offs are clearly identified by the United Nations and international expert bodies:

– Loss of habitat due to destruction: Due to the further increase in land consumption by humans and the associated changes in landscape structure, bees are finding fewer and fewer places to retreat.

– Intensive agriculture: Monocultures and especially the use of pesticides turn many agricultural landscapes into hostile areas for bees.

– Introduced bee diseases: Parasites and viruses introduced globally by humans – in the case of honey bees, especially the Varroa mite introduced from Asia – are severely affecting the bees.

– Anthropogenic climate change: higher temperatures, droughts, floods, and other extreme climate events and changes in flowering time hinder pollination and lead to starvation and unbalanced diets among bees.

Everyone can help the (wild) bees:

The most important thing is to preserve the habitat! It’s all well and good putting up nesting boxes – if the animals can’t find enough food in the area or are affected by environmental toxins, this approach won’t be successful. In addition, we can only ever target a few, specific species through nesting aids.

– Buy organic products

Positive effects of biological management

Organic farming, as an overall system, has a beneficial effect on the conservation and promotion of wild bees. The following measures contribute to this:

  1. Renunciation of chemical-synthetic pesticides
  2. No use of artificial fertilizers
  3. Increased cultivation of clover grass in arable crop rotations. Diverse species of bumblebees and other wild bees feed on legumes such as alfalfa, red clover and white clover.
  4. Application of non-chemical weed control. This leads to a flower-rich arable flora with plants rich in important sources of nectar and pollen.
  5. Extensive grassland management leads to more flower-rich, less grass-dominated stands and ultimately more insect-pollinated plants.
  6. Swiss organic farms have on average 46% to 72% more biodiversity support areas than non-organic farms, depending on the altitudinal zone, and thus potentially have a greater flower supply and more small structures with nesting sites than non-organic farms.

The most important thing is to preserve the habitat!

Advocate for more urban flowering meadows in your community. Roadsides and roadsides in residential areas can become a veritable buffet for wild bees and other insects by planting appropriate flowering plants. Every square meter counts!

The most important thing is to preserve the habitat!

You have a balcony or a garden? This is a wonderful condition to plant native, insect-friendly perennials, shrubs and/or trees. A very good summary of suitable plants – also edible for us – can be found here: https://www.naturadb.de/themen/wildbienenpflanzen/

Also pay attention to early and late bloomers. If you do not tidy up your garden too much, mow infrequently or leave dead wood lying around, this will also benefit the small beneficial insects.

The most important thing is to preserve the habitat!

Put up insect hotels – but please the useful ones. In hardware stores or the Internet, unfortunately, there are a lot of useless insect hotels in all imaginable sizes and shapes to buy. There is also no shortage of pointless DIY instructions. But what makes a useful insect hotel? – In any case, that it is accepted. We can recommend Werner David’s tips to anyone who is interested. He’s very direct about what works and what doesn’t, and he does it all in a delightfully funny way: nesting aids

The most important thing is to preserve the habitat!

We should not only commemorate our little friends and helpers on World Bee Day, but give them a higher priority in our everyday lives. Here you can find a pictorial representation of different wild bee species: https://apidarium.de/Bienen/index.html

Which of them have you already seen?