Five Ways to Help Bees Now

March 30, 2014

5 ways to help bees now

We hear so much about the desperate plight of the bees but is the message getting through?


Scientists are still working to determine what exactly is causing their global demise, but as a result of the Varroa mite, *there are no wild honeybees left in Ireland.

As we begin to sow seeds, tidy our gardens and think about shrubs and summer blooms, it’s important to remember bees need our help if they are to survive.

I came across this alarming yet hopeful TED talk by Marla Spivak recently where she eloquently speaks about the plight of the disappearing bees which is worth listening to. At the end she highlights a couple of things that each and every one of us can do to help the bees and why it’s important that we do them now. I’ve added a few more…

Five things we can do right now to help the bees that will make a difference

1. Don’t contaminate the flowers that are growing. Stop spraying pesticides and herbicides on flowers that the bees feed on and ingest – that includes the “weeds” such as dandelion that are a veritable spring feast for bees as they emerge. Always err on the side of caution – if you’re still using chemicals and are not sure if they’re harmful to bees or not, DON’T USE THEMThe RHS carry a lot of information about bees on their website, including a list of withdrawn chemicals that can be referred to.

Cornflowers2. Plant more bee friendly flowers.

If you’ve a large area to plant, one of the wildflower mixes from Sandro Cafolla, Design by Nature might be for you. Not only will the birds, bees and butterflies love you for it, wildflowers are low maintenance (they generally only need one cut per year) and look stunning when in flower too.

A spring bee feeding on a Mahonia flowerOnce again, the RHS have a very detailed list of plants for pollinators on their website here, which will give you ideas for bee attracting climbers, trees, bulbs and corms, as well as annual, biennial or perennial flowers.

You could also plant herbs or vegetables that bees will enjoy feeding upon such as asparagus, broad beans, courgettes and other members of the squash family, hyssop, marjoram, mint, rosemary, runner beans, sage, thyme and allow some of them to flower too such as brassicas.

bee collecting pollen on a broad (fava) bean3. Take direct action.

Greenpeace are running a campaign asking people to support ecological farming, ban bee harming pesticides and adopt action plans that will help to monitor the situation. If you’d like to sign the petition and/or donate to the cause, click the link here.

4. Create Bee-Friendly Zones

Bees like nooks and crannies to nest, feed and hang out in. Learn how to garden without chemicals, plant bee friendly plants, make bee nest boxes or hotels and encourage your friends, neighbours, schools, creches, and clubs to do the same in Bee-Friendly Zones.

Encourage councils and tidy town groups to plant bee friendly flowers among hedgerows and verges and remind farmers to leave strips of wild flower areas on the edges of their fields and resist spraying them with herbicides and pesticides, which will provide the bees with unpolluted food help to ensure their survival.

If you’re looking for ideas on habitats, here’s a Pinterest board full of bird, bee and pollinator friendly homes and feeders.

honey bees5. Start a Campaign

Although there’s a breeding programme to protect the native Irish honeybee, as far as I can make out there’s no national campaign in Ireland to raise awareness about the plight of the bees and how important it is that we protect and help them, so consider starting one!

Encourage your communities to plant more bee friendly flowers, stop spraying unnecessarily and plant more wildflower verges and roundabouts instead of spraying and mowing.

Let’s get bees into the news and help to raise an awareness that will stop people spraying and more people planting. What do you think? Are you up for the challenge?


* source


There will be an All-Ireland Pollinator Symposium on the 17th February 2015 in Waterford led by the National BioDiversity Centre and the Pollination Ecology Research Group in TCD. Take a look at their webpage for more information and to book a place.


  • Reply Lorna March 30, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I think we tend to forget that they actually are in danger – we see them buzzing around our garden in the summer but it is scary to think of the results of their demise.
    Do you keep bees? Neighbours of ours have some in their garden that belong to someone else – I believe it is to try and help them survive but haven’t heard much about it.

    • Reply greensideupveg March 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      Not yet Lorna but we hope to once we’ve some funds and classes under our belt. It takes a bit of cash to set up for suits, hive, bees etc. Keeping bees is another recommended way of helping them. The various beekeeper associations are doing a lot to help in terms of breeding programmes, conservation and awareness, it just needs to get out to the general public more.

  • Reply unahalpin March 30, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Dee the Irish Biodiversity Data Centre have been raising awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators through the Irish Pollinator Initiative http://pollinators.biodiversityireland.

    They have information on different species and bee friendly gardening and provide training courses on identification and also encourage members of the public to get involved in recording pollinator species. The biggest threat to pollinators is habitat loss, so the more information we have about the different species and the habitats they are found in throughout the country, the easier it will be to introduce further initiatives to protect them.

    • Reply greensideupveg March 30, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Una that’s really useful information, thanks for sharing it, I’ll take a look. Seems to be lots happening, perhaps we all need to shout a bit louder to be heard.

  • Reply mattcare2cv March 31, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Nice item, Greenside! I have shared it onto the Bee Keeping / Apiculture group on Facebook. Hope you don’t mind.

    • Reply greensideupveg March 31, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      Not at all Matt, pleased to be able to do anything I can to help!

  • Reply Naomi March 31, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Great post and we all need constant reminding of the plight of our bee populations. People forget the bigger picture… we need them for the food we eat!

    • Reply greensideupveg March 31, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks Naomi, and yes, I agree, this needs to constantly be in peoples minds and especially at this time of year when we’re all thinking of sowing and planting flowers and vegetables.

  • Reply Amanda Webb (@Spiderworking) April 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    There’s been so much written on this topic yet nothing seems to be changing. Thanks for the tips, I definitely need to do more myself but what we really need is governments to act too. There’s only so much we can do as individual.

    • Reply greensideupveg April 2, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Hmm you’ve given me an idea Amanda, thanks!! And yes, so much written but the word not getting out among the general public.

  • Reply mattcare2cv April 2, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Your readers may also be unaware that, although gardens and planting are a crucial part of bee forage (especially at either end of the season – crocus and flowering currant (Ribes) early on, and Sedum spectabile etc later on, a lot of it is about “weeds”. Everyone’s ‘just a plant growing in the wrong place’! In Ireland probably the most important early source of pollen in non-garden areas is your humble dandelion, yielder of pollen and nectar even at low temperatures. Hotly pursued by the ‘pussy’ willow group. And at the end of the season it is the ivy, with its oil-rich pollen which make our bees able to survive even with brood, through the winter. LESS tidying you gardeners, mow less short! Leave those dandelions to flower; think before you rip down the ivy off those trees and old buildings.

    • Reply greensideupveg April 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      I think you’re right Matt, a lot of gardeners don’t know and it’s definitely something I try to highlight in community gardens, that they don’t need to be immaculate! Thanks for highlighting some of the plants that bees like, I think we could all do with knowing more about their lifestyles,feeding habits etc.

  • Reply Every Day is Earth Day Enviro Show | The Enviro Show April 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    […] on record.”  Well, are we headed to the last Roundup, or what? On to the good news! Here are Five Ways to help the bees. What, only […]

  • Reply 12 Friendly Creatures We Want To See In Our Gardens April 22, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    […] been said that if the bees die out, the human population will only survive for another four years. Here’s a post I wrote recently that suggests five ways we can help bees survive. Number six on the list would be to become a beekeeper, a hobby many are taking up to protect and […]

  • Reply Christine Graves June 17, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Wonderful tips!

  • Reply B Gibson August 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Guys I read your comments about the problem with bees. I live in Holland on a small holding till 10 to12 years ago we had many salamanders -frogs, bees and butterflys. About 10 years ago the military under the control of the the world elete and pill multinationals started so spray our skys with chemicals,
    First the salamanders died off then the frogs then the bees now this year the butterflys are very few now ,what next before the people wake up to what is happening to us.
    If you wish to learn more of what I am saying please go the the American site please help us fight this situation I am sure there is groups in your country that are aware of what is being done to us and our nature We here are doing our best to stop what is happening to us..If this message is is not blocked please check the web site …………………B the netherlands

  • Reply B Gibson August 30, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Sorry….. When you go to the site educate clik on Chemtrails and you will be able to read the whole story

    • Reply greensideupveg September 1, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      TBH I haven’t made my mind up one way or the other on chemtrails. I’ve been seeing lots of posts about them recently and read a couple of articles. Still researching though 🙂

  • Reply Reflecting - 14 Gardening Articles for 2014Greenside Up January 25, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    […] No. 6 – Five Ways to Help Bees […]

  • Reply What Can I Plant In My Garden To Help Honey Bees?Greenside Up April 22, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    […] wrote a post last year that looked at five ways we can help bees but since then I’ve taken beginners lessons in beekeeping. One of the lectures was about […]

  • Reply Patricia Murray July 6, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    I would loved to have done bee keeping but unfortunately I developed multiple sclerosis so it never happened. Some years ago it was mentioned that they were looking for places in Wexford to put bee hives but nothing ever came of it. I would have loved a hive in my garden especially where I grow my herbs as I always let them flower and it’s a hive of activity in the summer, I always stop as I’m passing to watch the different bees at work. Could you tell me if bee keepers do look for places to put hives, I would love one in my garden. Regards Trish

    • Reply Dee Sewell July 9, 2019 at 10:24 pm

      Hi Patricia

      So sorry to hear of your illness, that must have been an awful shock for you. I’d recommend you get in touch with your local beekeepers association. You can find a list on the national website. They might have evenings that you can go along to and learn more, such as the honey collection or talks, but do get in touch and have a chat with them.


    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.