BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 01 May '15

TV presenters urge public to join the Great British Bee Count

Wildlife presenters Steve Backshall, Michaela Strachan and Miranda Krestovnikoff are urging people to get outside and take part in the Great British Bee Count 2015, which is taking place throughout the month of May.

Organised by Friends of the Earth, Buglife and Waitrose, the Great British Bee Count aims to build on the huge success of last year’s inaugural event, when over 23,000 people took part and spotted over 830,000 bees.

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Get in the garden

Gardeners are also being encouraged to take easy steps (see below) to make their gardens more bee-friendly and help provide crucial havens for our threatened pollinators. The forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend provides an ideal opportunity to get started.

Allotments (with an average of 12 bees spotted per count) and gardens were two of the top three most popular habitats in last year’s bee count – with the countryside coming in third.

‘Increasingly our gardens are becoming key habitats for bees as development pressure eats into urban green space. The Great British Bee Count is a fun way to engage in the challenge of making our environment more pollinator friendly.’

Paul Hetherington, Director of Communications, Buglife

Britain’s bees

Bees help pollinate hundreds of our main crops including apples, strawberries and tomatoes. Without this free service provided by bees, UK farmers would have to pay £1.8 billion a year more to hand-pollinate crops. This is already happening in parts of China and India where bees have disappeared.

Without bees, we can kiss goodbye to gran’s apple crumble, strawberries and cream (and even that cheeky gin and tonic).

The UK has lost a shocking 20 species of bee, and a further quarter are on the red list of threatened species. A big reason is that bees depend on flowers for food – and in the past 60 years 97% of our wildflower meadows have disappeared.

‘Bees are the most amazing creatures and a lot of people are totally unaware of how important they are. In the UK we are lucky enough to have around 250 different types of bee and a lot of people don’t know that. So get outside and see how many you can spot and do what you can to help these awesome little pollinators. We all need to bee friend the bee!’

Michaela Strachan, Wildlife presenter and BBC Springwatch host

What you can do

But the good news is that you can help change things. By planting flowers rich in nectar and pollen you can start to replenish their lost habitat.

‘Nothing is more iconic of a British summer than a bee buzzing around the garden, but these amazing creatures need our help. Britain’s bees are in serious decline. We can all give them a boost by creating bee-friendly habitats in our schools, parks and gardens.’

Miranda Krestovnikoff, natural history presenter

So join in – get planting and start counting – and let’s get Britain buzzing again. To find out more about the event, including how to take part, click here.

The data can be easily recorded via the free smartphone app, which goes live on 1 May. The app can be downloaded from iTunes or the Google Play store.

‘Bees are our pals; without their pollinating powers, our planet would grind to a halt. So get out, have a fun day in the countryside, and do a bit of citizen science counting our buzzing buddies!

Steve Backshall, wildlife presenter

Tips for a bee-friendly garden

Gardeners can take simple steps to make their gardens and allotments more attractive to bees. Top bee-friendly garden tips include:

  • Planting nectar and pollen rich flowers: Bees see purple better than any other colour, so fill your garden with plants like lavender, bugles and borage. Tubular-shaped flowers, like lupins and foxgloves, provide a good landing place for bees to feed. Feed yourself and the bees too with a herb garden that includes plants such as rosemary, chives and thyme
  • Bees love dandelions and clover – so why not allow some to grow on your lawn?
  • Make your own bee hotel to attract pollinators
  • Provide a clean source of water with a shallow bowl with a few pebbles for the bees to land on
  • Avoid using pesticides – they have been linked to the decline in our bees

Click here to find out more about the Great British Bee Count and how to get involved.