Save the bees: join the Great British Bee Count

by Alice Wright

Cuckoo bumble bee in flight, credit: Amelia Collins

Gardeners are being asked to get buzzy in their garden or allotment by taking part in the Great British Bee Count 2015.

The count takes place throughout May and aims to build on the success of last year’s inaugural event. It is organised by Friends of the Earth, Buglife, and Waitrose.

Last year, 23,000 people took part and spotted more than 830,000 bees. Participants in this year’s event can easily record data using a free smartphone app, and they are being encouraged to upload pictures of any bees they see. The data collected will be used by experts investigating the plight of bees and the actions needed to help them. More than 20 UK bee species are already extinct and about a quarter of the remaining 267 species are at risk.

Bee expert Professor Dave Goulson, from the University of Sussex, said: “It is fantastic that the Great British Bee Count got 23,000 people out looking at our wild bees last year, let’s hope for even more in 2015. The idea of including photo uploads this year is really important as it will allow the records to be checked by experts.”

Gardeners are also being encouraged to take easy steps to make their gardens more bee-friendly during the count, to help provide crucial habitats for the threatened pollinators.

Simple steps include planting nectar- and pollen-rich flowers, particularly purple ones. Bees see purple better than any other colour so plants like lavender, bugles and borage are especially attractive to them. Tubular-shaped flowers like lupins and foxgloves also provide good landing places for bees to feed.

Sandra Bell, a Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “Bees are the gardener’s friend, pollinating their fruit and flowers. With a little effort, more of our gardens and allotments could become crucial havens for these under-threat pollinators.”

Paul Hetherington, Director of Communications at Buglife, said: “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.”

To find out more about the event, including how to take part, visit

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