May 20th marks World Bee Day and it’s made us think just how much we have to thank the not-so-humble bumblebee for. Seeing as we were supposed to be at the Chelsea Flower Show this week, it’s not surprising we understand the beauty bees can bring to the world. Many of the plants and flowers that make up the magnificent show gardens every year would not exist without bees busily flying between the blooms.
When you think about it, there wouldn’t be any Heyland & Whittle products without bees to do some very important jobs. As well as the beeswax we use in our Scented Candles, there’s all the fragrances we use in everything from our Reed Diffusers right through to our Soaps.
According to the United Nations, up to 90 per cent of the wildflower species in the world, more than 75 per cent of food crops and 35 per cent of agricultural plants rely on animal pollination. While there are other species, including butterflies and hummingbirds, that help to do this job, bees are particularly efficient pollinators for a couple of reasons.
The first is the sheer amount of time bees spend flying around from flower to flower collecting pollen. If they weren’t so busy then there wouldn’t be anywhere near as many plants in our ecosystem. The second reason is that bees are covered in tiny hairs that collect pollen and transfer it to different flowers as the bee buzzes about the garden.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Marut Homtawee
Bees in our ranges
Cherry blossom is one of our favourite fragrances and so appropriate at this time of year, as it is the quintessential scent of spring. Most varieties of cherry tree cannot self pollinate and therefore rely on insects, such as bees, to visit other trees spreading the pollen between the two. So, without bees, there’d be no stunning spray of white and pink flowers and no sweet-smelling Cherry Blossom Wash and Lotion.
Bees love lavender almost as much as we adore putting it in our products. From our Lavender Soap Bar to our Citrus and Lavender Bath Melt, we have liberally sprinkled this calming ingredient throughout our ranges. If you or someone you know is having trouble nodding off during the lockdown, consider ordering the Sleep Easy Care Package and say a little thank you to the bees after a good night’s rest.
Sweet peas are the gardener's friend, because bees are attracted to the brightly coloured flowers and go on to pollinate vegetables. They are teamed up with a classic of many a British garden in our Sweet Pea and Rose Candle in a Glass. Bees love roses because they produce an abundance of pollen, but it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, as the roses need the bees for pollination too.
Welcome bees into your garden
Help support your local bee population by planting flowers in your garden that will encourage them to thrive. They need nectar to power flight and pollen to provide enough protein for the grubs to grow into adult bees. There are many different species of bees and they all emerge from hibernation at varying times of the year, so aim to have plants flowering from late winter all the way through to the end of the autumn to help a maximum number of bees.
Try to grow single-flowered varieties of flowers like roses and dahlias, as double specimens tend to have so many petals they prevent bees from accessing the all-important central area. Bees are particularly good at spotting purple, so opt for this hue over others when you have a choice. Long-tongued bees like to feed from tubular-shaped blooms, so a few of those in the mix is a good idea.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Michelle Tresemer
Which flowers will bees be enjoying now?
During the spring, flowers like bluebells, forget-me-nots and primroses are keeping the bees happy. As we move into early summer, they’ll be enjoying foxgloves, hollyhocks and snapdragons. If you’ve got a spare patch in your garden or even just room for a pot on your balcony, think about planting some sunflowers now, as they will feed bees later in the year.