I’ll put my hand up and say yes, I was one of those people who used to tremble whenever I heard that buzzing noise coming from somewhere behind me, getting closer and closer. Wasps, bees – they all melded into one for me.
As I’ve got older I’m much calmer around them. Maybe that’s because I know a bit more about them, or I’ve heard that buzzing noise so many times and my brain has clicked that as I’m still here they’re not going to do me any harm but they’re doing the world a whole lot of good…
Bees, bees, bees, we all need bees
Either way, bees are brilliant. We all need bees. They have an incredibly important role to play in everybody’s lives – whether you realise it or not. Without bees we wouldn’t have any of what we eat or drink today – just about everything we consume relies on bees at some point. Don’t forget that when you next feel the urge to bat them away, squash them or some other such horrid way of removing them from your presence.
There are over 2000 different varieties of bee in the UK alone. When I found this out I was amazed as I’d only ever been aware of the honeybee and the bumblebee. I’d always naïvely thought that honeybees did all the work when it came to wild flowers and farmland alike.
Bees are disappearing fast…
Annnd here’s the irony of it all, mainly because of loss of habitat due to farmland (I say this as a farmer’s daughter, sorry dad) with neat fields and chemicals spraying everywhere. This intense farming often means that bees have limited places to go and wildflowers to pollinate. Talk about bite the hand that feeds you. Why? Because farmers need bees to pollinate their crops in order for them to fruit, to produce food and to earn a living. They trade off wild areas for bees for more land to plant crops, hence the need to ship them in. It’s on such a bad scale in the USA that farmers ship millions of honeybees in to help pollinate their crops. If you want to know more about it give Bee Quest by Dave Goulson a read (honestly, I’m swearing off almonds after reading this).
Be on bee watch
Hopefully the message has come across that we really need to look after our bees by now. This means planting bee friendly flowers in your garden, make or put up bee houses so they can nest and feeding them when they get too tired to move… It may appear to you that they’re dead but often they’ve just become too tired to get to the next flower to feed.
We found one such bee on our way home from town the other day. He (or she) was right in the middle of the pavement hardly moving, simply exhausted, just waiting to be stepped on by an unwitting person. So it came home with us for some food.
Food for bees
2:1 cane sugar and water mixed up on a plate did the trick. Placing the bee on the plate it came to life straight away and had a bit of a feeding frenzy. After 10 minutes of feasting on pure sugar it cleaned itself off and flew away happy as can be.
Note: don’t feed them…
Don’t feed them honey as if it’s not from their own hive there’s a risk of spreading disease.
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