BeeWalks is certainly a wonderful idea to allow the public to get involved. Do you know of any citizen projects that take place around the world?
There’s a variety of monitoring schemes of various kinds around the world – for wild bees, Ireland has the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme, and the USA has several run by the Xerces Society and the USGS. For honeybees, there’s dozens of recording and monitoring schemes all over the world – wherever you are, there’s likely to be one nearby!
What can we do to make our gardens more bee-friendly?
To make gardens more bee-friendly, people can plant a mix of flowers which produce pollen and/or nectar throughout the bee flight season (roughly March-October), to provide enough food for bees to survive and thrive. Also, gardeners should try to reduce their use of pesticides and herbicides as much as possible – all broad-spectrum pesticides can kill non-target species such as bees, while many weeds are great food resources.
How easy is it for people to get involved in practical activities such as making bee boxes in their gardens? What else can they do in this department?
Very easy! The best way to get started – and one of the most effective – is to make a home for solitary bees. You can get started by drilling holes into a piece of wood facing roughly south. A variety of sizes of hole allows for different species, but around 8-10mm is best for many of the commoner species. Even easier, just tie a bunch of bamboo canes together and suspend them against a south-facing wall or fence.
Do you think enough is being done worldwide to raise awareness and help with the issue? What would you like to see more of?
Public awareness of the problem is probably at an all-time high, but there’s still plenty more that needs to be done – recording bee sightings and making gardens more bee-friendly are the two major things that help massively, but are things which anyone can do.
Are you hopeful that we’ll be able to reverse the effects and see a change in the decline?
I’m mostly optimistic. The conservation movement has had plenty of notable successes, such as the reintroduction of the Large Blue butterfly in the UK, and I’m hopeful that the current public awareness of bee declines, and anger at the apparent causes, can be harnessed to reverse the current declines and get the countryside buzzing once more.