Meant to bee?

Queen bee 1

Busy bees (Photo credit: quisnovus)

I’ve been droning on about bees, recently.  I noticed during this past wet, windy Spring that there was hardly a bee to be seen on the apple blossom. The kids and I even went bee-hunting, to see if we could spot any. There has been a lot in the press recently about the collapse in bee numbers, thanks to varroa mites, pesticides – and the loss of about 97% of the country’s flower meadows in less than 100 years. So, I like the idea of doing something pro-bee. Maybe even having a hive or two out in the orchard.  Not least since my family are all honey-heads, which gets expensive.  British honey costs almost £5 a jar in my local Co-op, while a jar of high-food-miles ‘mix of EU and non-EU honey’  costs less than £2.

Anyway, I went for a coffee yesterday and outside was a stall promoting the local beekeeping group, complete with ‘an observation hive’ – a glass-panelled box seething with some pretty angry-looking bees. The very un-angry woman looking after the stall offered help, advice, the chance to meet her bees, an invitation to a ‘beginners’ talk in the local Scout hut – and stickers for my children. It was a bit like being invited to join a cult – but in a good way. Oh, and a week ago while taking my little boy to play at a friend’s farm, we got to visit the ‘apiary’ (ie bunch of hives), in a beautiful, wooded corner of their field. And take home a fantastic jar of real, home-grown honey.

When you think about it, bees are a pretty high-yielding beasty.  They give honey, beeswax, pollination services – and result in invitations to Scout Huts to learn more about the noble art of bee keeping. What’s not to love?

5 responses to “Meant to bee?

  1. Beautiful photo of bees on healthy biscuit-coloured brood, I agree bees are wonderful creatures. Unfortunately, all the wet weather this year has made it difficult for bees to forage. Even on a sunny day they need to wait for the trees and flowers to dry out before collecting nectar and pollen. Too much rain can also wash away pollen and dilute nectar too much, so bees don’t have much to collect when they are able to fly out.

    You are right about loss of country’s flower meadows and fewer bees. At a talk this year, we found out that loss of natural habitat is a key cause for insect pollinator decline (as well as increases in diseases). Flowers are very important to bees and everyone can help lots by growing more bee-friendly plants in their garden 🙂

    • Hi, Many thanks for your comment – it’s very encouraging for a new blogger like me. Your site is beautiful, by the way, and very useful to someone like me who is just starting to find out more about bees and bee keeping. Thanks so much for the information about bees and foraging – I hadn’t realised that rain could cause so many problems for them. No wonder we have seen so few bees ‘out and about’ here in Suffolk. We’re lucky to have several areas of meadow here in our garden/smallholding, which we’re keen to plant and manage in ways that will encourage even more wild flowers to develop, to support bees and other wildlife. I’m also hoping to plant a special area of ‘bee meadow’ – so I’ll be researching and writing more about that on the blog in due course. And one day, soon, I hope to have a hive or two here as well! Lucy

  2. A bee meadow would be wonderful. I look forward to seeing photos of bumbles and other bees enjoying feasting in your garden. If more people thought about planting bee-food, I’m sure there would be enough spaces for humans and bees everywhere 🙂

    The BBKA have a useful page on their website about gardening for bees here: http://www.bbka.org.uk/learn/gardening_for_bees

    With a downloadable PDF listing pollen and nectar rich plants by season, which is great so that there is a constant supply of forage for bees throughout the season: http://www.bbka.org.uk/files/library/pollen_&_nectar_rich_plants_for_your_garden_by_season_june_2011_for_website_1310045511.pdf

    • Thank you so much for the info! That’s really useful. I’ll hope to have some lovely pictures up of bees and flowers sometime soon – if it stops raining long enough!

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