This is what you can do to help save the bees on World Bee Day

Today (Wednesday, May 20) is World Bee Day, an annual celebration of everything bees do to help us and to raise awareness of the importance of bees.

Images of nature. Pic Steve Robards ZZ SR2005191 PNL-200519-163829001

According to Greenpeace, honeybees are responsibly for around 80 per cent of all pollination, and one bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers every day.

But many are under threat from habitats being destroyed, bee-harming pesticides, and climate change.

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To put the work of bees into perspective, a bee is responsible for every third bite of food you eat, and around 80 per cent of the western diet depends on pollination by bees, acccording to Wildlife Trust.

Emmy Kavanagh took this photo of a bee on a cardoon SUS-200519-165230001

Wildlife Trust explained how three bumblebee species have become extinct in recent decades, and the European Red List for Bees reports that almost one in ten species of wild bee face extinction, and over the past 50 years, half the bee, butterfly and moth species studied in the 2013 State of Nature Report have declined.

However, there are steps people can take to encourage pollination, and help save the bees.

Single, open flowers where you can see the centre of the flower are important, so bees can access the nectar and pollen.

This means any simple-looking flowers such as daisies are perfect for honey bees, who have short tongues and need easy access.

Different bees are active at different times of the year - some come out of hibernation in February, and some are still active in November - although most bees are active from March to September.

This means it’s important to grow flowers that bloom all throughout the year.

Bees can see purple more clearly than other colours, which makes it one of the best colours for bee plants - this includes lavender, alliums, and catmint, which all have purple flowers.

Any flowers that are tubular-shaped, like snapdragons, foxgloves and honeysuckle, are an excellent food source for long-tongued bees including the garden bumblebee.

It’s also important to have a handful of plants that flower during winter, like winter honeysuckle, ivy, and winter clematis.

Flowering trees are also loved by bees, especially apples and pears.

Consider having bluebells, primroses, rhododendrons and rosemary flower in the spring, foxgloves, lavender, thyme and snapdragons in the summer, asters, honeysuckle and heather in the late summer and in autumn, and ivy and cornflower in the winter.

Legumes are attractive to bees too, including peas and beans, and dandelions, blackberries and asters are also loved by them.

Dandelions, which start flowering in March, are a vital source of food, and the British Ecological Society advises people put off pulling up their dandelions to help save bees.

Other helpful things you can do for bees are leaving patches of land to grow wild, and letting wildflowers grow, to make good nesting and feeding sites.

If you’re not too keen on a wild look for your garden, consider using an alternative to pesticides, or cutting your grass less often and removing cuttings to allow your plants to flower.

You could also build a bee hotel, which can be a great activity to do with children, and will allow certain species of bees to breed in privacy.

Whatever you choose to do to help the bees, one thing is for sure - we need them, and we should do all we can to welcome them into our gardens.