Prior to the AGM, John Catton gave us an excellent presentation on British bees. He showed us pictures of the large numbers of bees, which are native to Britain and discussed the differences in social and solitary varieties.
In particular he looked at causes of their recent decline, which is tragic, given that they have been around for more than 100 million years and have been able to survive ice ages etc.
One of the main causes is the use of insecticides such as neonicotinoids and current agricultural practices, which encourage monocultures, are also having a detrimental effect.
Farmers can assist in providing strips of land at the edges of fields where wild flowers are encouraged to grow.
Individuals can assist by growing a wide variety of flowers in their garden. English cottage garden varieties with simple single flowers are best for bees, as are herbs with flowers such as thyme, marjoram, borage and chives.
At the end of his talk John Catton handed out an excellent little handbook from The British Beekeepers Association titled, Honey Bee and Insect Pollinator Food Sources. Within it were suggestions for ornamental trees, hedging, flowering shrubs, bulbs and perennials. All those listed are pollen and nectar rich plants suitable for the garden. Amongst the list were Magnolia, Crab apple, Lilac, Hawthorn Forsythia, Virburnum, Buddlija, Clematis, grape hyacinth, Dog rose and Honeysuckle to name a few.
Why not check out how bee friendly your garden is by visiting http://beekind.bumblebeeconservation.org/ and see how your garden scores.
There are many websites with further suggestions for simple ways that you can help.