Teach Your Kids To Save The Bees.
Why you should teach your kids to save the Bees
Encouraging children to connect with nature and build a relationship with their environment is best started as early as possible. Children who grow up with a love of nature in all its forms are more likely to care and nurture their environment when they’re older.
“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.”
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Here In the UK and indeed all over the world bees are in decline.
Since 1990, 33% of all our bee numbers have declined and in the UK alone we have lost 20 species of bee and another 35 species are under threat of extinction.
This is partly due to a rise in the use of pesticides across the world, and partly to the fact we have fewer habitats with the wildflowers bees need.
Why are bees important?
Bees pollinate our food and the food of some of our products. Beef for example comes from a cow that eats grass. If there’s no pollination, then where does the grass come from to feed the cows we depend on for milk and beef etc. over one 3rd of our food is pollinated by bees!! Think of losing your favourite food? strawberries, apples, or cereal etc.
It would cost the farming industry over 1.8 BILLION to pollinate that amount of crops and when they are barely covering costs as it is!
So, What can we do to save the bees?
There are lots of ways we can get involved in helping our bees.
Grow bee friendly plants
The greater the variety of plants and wildflowers that you have in your garden, the more likely you are to attract lots of bees. Particular bee favourites include lavender, marigolds and ox-eye daisies. Here are some of the bee friendly plants we grow that the bees just love.
Get rid of pests organically
The biggest bee killer of them all is pesticides, rather than using weed killers or pesticides in your garden, which can harm bees and other insects, why not spend a nice afternoon hand weeding with your kids, Copper rings are effective at keeping slugs away, or cover weeds in cardboard and a mulch to stop the light getting to them.
Get outdoors and observe nature!
Go for walks. Nothing beats getting out into the garden or taking a walk in the countryside or in the park. -Why not visit a bee hive farm, or just take a simple nature walk.
In some areas, community ‘bee walks’ are being arranged. If there isn’t one in your area, why not find an expert and arrange it yourself for the community?
Bring on the science!
For example, record and identify which bees are visiting which flowers and food crops. Take a large plastic hoop and count how many creatures you can see inside the hoop. Try it for a number of different habitats, and compare them.
Let your grass grow
Cutting your grass less often means that you’re more likely to attract bees, as well as other insects who like the moist, cool shade at the roots.
You could even consider keeping a patch of your garden long throughout spring and summer as a wildflower meadow; either just leave it to its own devices and see what grows, or buy some seeds – you can buy packets of mixed wildflowers to easily grow your own meadow. You can even do this in a pot if you have no garden to spare.
Bees don’t just like buzzing around plants and flowers – they also like to rest in walls, bits of bare ground, long cool grass and piles of wood. Making bee hotel is a great way for you and your child to learn more about bees by watching how they live and behave. A simple bee hotel can be made by bundling up short bamboo canes into a cut off plastic bottle and hanging it somewhere near your plants.
You could also consider installing a bee box or a bee hive in your own garden. There is likely a local club or association near you that would be able to advise on how to do this and they are normally very helpful. You can also find out about how to get bees for free to fill your bee hive with.
Grow some herbs
A lot of herbs are good for bees, and smell amazing – they can be added to children’s cookery or school meals as well. Certain herbs also help the flavour of the honey and other products A herb garden is a relaxing sensory place for children – or even a pot of herbs near a bench if your space is limited.
Grow a hedge
Planting a native hedge can be a huge help to allsorts of wildlife in your area, providing habitats, food and shelter for scores of mini-beasts including bees. You could try a including a variety of plants that provide berries, flowers and year round leaves, Plants such as ivy, hawthorn, sloe berries, cotoneaster, and even fruiting plants like raspberry and currant bushes, are all fabulous choices. Try leaving the grass under the hedge long and try not to be too tidy here and very quickly you will see all sorts of life gather here including frogs, bugs and the odd hedgehog.
Fruit trees and plants of any type are great for bees, as well as encouraging your children to eat healthy. Strawberries, raspberries and hawthorn all have tasty berries and plants such as apples, sloes, plums and cherries all provide us with tasty fruit and help save the bees win-win.
Keep a nature diary.
An amazing way to encourage kids to show an interest in the world around them is to make a nature journal and fill it with drawings, photos, and various items you’ve gathered on your travels. You can download some sheets to get you started in my post called A QUICK GUIDE TO MAKING A NATURE JOURNAL.
Build a bee watering hole
Bees also need water so you can help by providing some. It’s a good idea to provide a separate source of water for the bees as many garden ponds and bird baths are too deep or not shallow enough for bees and they could drown as a result. Bees don’t just drink the water they use it to help keep the hive at a constant temperature, so it’s really important that water sources are kept clean and filled with fresh water regularly.
- We made our bee bath by using a spare stone bird bath but you could use any shallow container such as an upturned dustbin lid, or a plastic flower-pot tray, or a plastic lid of some sort.
- Place a single layer of marbles for the bees to rest on making sure the tray is full so the marbles can’t roll around and accidentally drown a bee. You could add a few smaller beads or glass stones etc to give different heights and create drinking pockets for the bees although they use their own drinking straws to reach down between the marbles to get a drink.
- And then just add water. We placed our bee watering hole next to our flowering plants and herbs where the bees love to buzz around. It’s important to keep this topped up and clean so the bees don’t carry any diseases back to the hive.
Create a bee and pollinator garden together.
For advice about which plants to grow see the list above for bee friendly plants. It’s a brilliant opportunity to make a direct link between the foods we eat and the creatures (especially the bees and other pollinators) which help to put food on our plate.
What else can we do to help bees?
- We found an amazing App on my smart phone called Bee Count. It’s made by Friends of the Earth who is working to help save the UK’s bees. If you make a donation, you’ll be sent a free saver kit specially designed for children, with lots of fun facts and bee-saving ideas.
- Encouraging children to love nature but especially bees, is not only life enriching for your child, it is a great way to help ensure your kids are ready to be the generation that will help to care for bees in the future
- Sign up to the Friends Of The Earth Bee Count. You can download the app and help count the bees so we can keep an eye on their numbers and which ones.
- Nature Hunts, bark rubbing, flower painting and other outdoor nature activities all help to build a solid relationship between your child with the great outdoors that will last a life time.
If you find a poorly bee who seems to be struggling you can try to help by giving the bee a spoon full of 50/50 water and sugar mix. This can be enough to put buzz in it’s wings to get it home to the hive so it can get better. Do not use this water as a replacement for flowers as it is full of empty calories for the bee as it is for us.
“we will protect what we fall in love with”.
~ Louie Schwartzberg
Other nature activities
The world is full of possibilities for experiencing nature. Simply walking out of your door and listening to the birds sing, or the sound of grass blowing in a breeze. Kids however, need a little help to bee the amazement in these things so why not try,
- pond dipping with a net in the pond and see what you can find,
- gather some leaves and make a picture with them
- do a bark rubbing picture,
- gather some pine cones and turn them into something else, like an animal or Christmas decoration,
- starting your own ‘nature journal’,
- collect pebbles, feathers or smoothed glass shapes or shells at the beach
- or our favourite is to find and paint some rocks.
The countryside, the garden, the park, the beach, the woods. They can provide excellent resources for nature-themed activities so forget the TV get out there and explore. Your kids and the bees will thank you!
So, there’s some ideas to start you off, but the most important thing isn’t ‘What you do’, It’s that you DO SOMETHING!! Get in touch below or on our Facebook page to let us know what your doing to save the bees!!
Wildlife World Solitary Bee Hive Esschert Design Wood Bee House – NaturalRelaxdays Free-Standing Size L Insect Hotel, Nest Help for Bees, Lacewings, Ladybugs, Wood, HxWxD: 60.5 x 37 x 9 cm, Natural Brown