A FRIEND of mine told me recently that if you want to be happy for a day - get drunk; if you want to be happy for a year - get married; and if you want to be happy for life - get a garden.

And you don’t have to go very far at this time of the year to realise that we are truly a nation of gardeners. Multi-coloured cascading hanging baskets can be seen adoring people’s homes, outside shops and offices, in parks and other green spaces.

While many private and public gardens boast borders bursting with flowering shrubs, bedding plants, annuals, perennials and bulbs while vegetable patches are displaying vibrant red runner bean flowers, yellow tomato flowers or those golden courgette flowers. England’s green and pleasant land is currently awash with colour.

And along with nature’s spectacular kaleidoscope of assorted hues, there is a buzz to our green spaces as a variety of insects get to work spreading the pollen which ensure the plants can reproduce.

In the UK there are more than 1,500 species of bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, ants and beetles comprising a diverse group of insects known as pollinators. They are vital to the production of fruit or seeds as they move pollen – between flowering plants.

And as some of their natural habitats such as large decaying trees, hedges, drystone walls and front gardens are being lost, it is important we provide alternatives so they can continue to thrive.

If the pollinators went into decline it could threaten the £100bn food industry in Britain and, according the Defra (the Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs), without the service nature provides some of the UK’s food would become a lot harder to grow and more expensive.

According to Worcestershire County Council there are records of 165 species of wild bees, of which 46 are classified as rare and notable, in Worcestershire.

President of Worcestershire Beekeepers' Association Martyn Cracknell, from Bishampton, has kept honey bees for many years and runs an annual Beekeeping for Beginners course.

He said despite an awful lot of confusion about the health and numbers of bees in the UK, there is no evidence that the bee population is in decline. “It is extremely difficult to know whether the bee population is increasing or decreasing,” he said. “It does seem there are not as many wasps this year as last year.”

However it is important that, as our countryside and cities change, people give these pollinators a bit of help to flourish in an evolving environment.

“There are things people can do to help honey bees like providing sites for honey bees to live in. Mouse holes, cracks and crevices in drystone walls and hedgerows provide wonderful habitats,” said Martyn.

“There has been a massive loss of front gardens by people paving to provide car parking. And this is beginning to create an urban desert. People can buy nests for solitary bees or they can make their own by taking an empty tin and filling it with reeds, grasses or straw.

“You can buy bumblebee boxes. They have to be put out in January. People can also provide continuity of food by planting early flowering plants like snow drops and crocuses, plants flowering throughout the summer and those which flower in September and October.

“A row of lavender in front of a fence, where a hedge used to be, will be alive with bumblebees at this time of the year. It is really helpful to give the bees good nourishment before they go into winter and they will come out fit and fighting in the spring.”

According to the county council, Worcestershire's landscape is especially notable in England for its traditional orchard habitat and some apple varieties are 90 per cent dependent on insect pollination for fruit set.

Sensitively managed orchards can provide an important food source and refuge for many insect species, acting as a pollination reservoir for surrounding farmland.

The county council has been working with Worcestershire Biological Records Centre and Natural England on a series of projects to enhance the management of traditional orchards which provide nectar opportunities for pollinators. This has involved over 100 hectares of traditional orchards and planting 1,000 new fruit trees.

It is also looking at what can be done to use roadside verges to help these important insects and it has established 43 roadside nature reserves across the county encouraging wildflowers.

The council wants to increase the number of these roadside verges in the future, introduce further bee hives and bee hotels on countryside sites and work with planning authorities to ensure green infrastructure. It also wants to encourage members of the public to play a part in supporting pollinating insects.

Councillor Anthony Blagg, Worcestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: "We are committed to ensuring Worcestershire is a pollinator-friendly county and increasing pollinator-friendly habitat. This includes looking to the management of county council owned land and sharing information on biodiversity with residents and businesses so that they can play their part.”

Top five tips to encourage pollinators into your garden

1. Pick the perfect pollinator plant

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Gardeners' World websites have lists of suitable garden and wild plants. Generally plants with single-petal or tubular-shaped flowers are best and bees can see purple more clearly than any other colour, so lavender is a great option.

2. Size doesn't matter

If you have a big garden, consider planting British wildflowers. Not only will these look beautiful, they will also support a wider range of pollinating insects. However if you only have a small outside space, a few potted flowering plants can still make a big difference and will encourage pollinators to visit.

3. Timing is everything

Ideally your plants should be in flower from early spring to late autumn in order for pollinators to fully benefit, so it's not too late to get planting this summer. You can also choose plants which provide pollen during autumn and winter, so variety is best.

4. Be the ideal host

Build a home in your garden for solitary bees by making or buying a bee hotel. You could even learn to keep a hive of bees yourself by enrolling on Martyn Cracknell's Beekeeping for Beginners course. Find out more at www.wbka.net

5. Try to go natural

Avoid the use of pesticides, particularly when plants are in flower or pollinators are active. Instead, try and introduce barriers for pests such as snails and slugs or remove them by hand.