If you have not heard about the challenges facing bees and other pollinator insects, you must be living under a rock. Intensive use of land by the fast expanding human population, how we farm or even look after our garden has placed significant pressure on the bee population. That is why some clever people created World Bee Day. It is a good idea to set aside one day, to reflect on bees, and the day is 20th of May every year.
So, what are the things you can do on World Bee Day to remember and take action that can help these lovely creatures?
Create awareness by sending a FREE World Bee Day eCard
Some of the human activities that are negatively impacting the bees are born of ignorance rather than deliberate lack of care for the bees. So, why not send a FREE Happy Bee Day eCard to your friends and family, to help raise awareness about bees. Charity eCard website, Hope Spring is offering free save the bees eCards on their website. Just visit the free ecards section of their website, use the provided token to send a free Happy Bee Day eCard.
Improve your knowledge of the challenges facing the bees
Bees are beset by the same environmental challenges as other species, including habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation; non-native species and diseases; pollution, including pesticides; and climate change.
Here in the UK, Changes in land use, including insensitive urban development and intensive farming, have caused great losses and fragmentation of pollinator-friendly habitats. This leads to bees losing the diverse and nutritional food sources required for their healthy diet.
It’s important that bees have enough flowers to forage – and safe places to use for nesting, among vegetation, the soil and hedges. But since World War II, we have lost about 98% of our wildflower meadows, leaving the bees with little natural habitat.
Climate change is also having an impact. The shift in temperatures and seasons affects when insects are active and when food is available, which may no longer coincide. New pests and diseases can also strike as the climate changes, devastating bee colonies which have little or no resistance. Bees feel the effects of climate change more greatly than those of habitat disturbance. A recent research found that the abundance and diversity of bee populations are heavily determined by weather conditions. During the study, higher temperatures and more intense rainfall during Winter and Spring months were associated with a lower abundance of wild bees. It is undeniable that climate change poses a huge threat to the wild bee population, and hence our global food supply.
The use of pesticides has also been identified as one of the causes of decline in bee population.
A study by Dr Richard Gill of Imperial College London, shows how factors associated with land use change affects pollinating insects. He says, ‘They target what are known as nicotinic acetylcholinesterase receptors. These are similar receptors to those that nicotine binds to in humans.’
‘Effectively, this information instructs the insect on how to move, think and learn. Normally, a second molecule will then come and break down the substance that is stimulating the nerve.’
With neonicotinoids, however, this is where the problems arise. The molecule of neonicotinoid has high affinity to the receptor, meaning that it is very difficult to break down.
‘Basically, it causes the insects to become hyperactive. Excess stimulation and the insect has a seizure, a bit like an epileptic fit,’ says Richard.
Save the bees
About two-thirds of the crop plants that feed the world rely on pollination by insects or other animals to produce healthy fruits and seeds for human consumption. Pollination benefits human nutrition – enabling not only the production of an abundance of fruits, nuts and seeds, but also more variety and better quality.
Below are some of the things you and I can do to help curb the alarming decline in bee population:
Plant native wildflowers
Keep part or all of your garden untidy, to make more room for wildlife
Found a swarm of bees on your property and would like it removed? We may be able to help. If you have a beekeeper near you, the chances of finding a swarm of bees clumped on a tree in your garden, on the roof of your house or even on your windows pane is very high.
If you find such transient visitors on your property in South Herefordshire, please contact us. We may be able to help you move them to a good home.
Swarm in May is worth a load of hay
Swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly.
This 17th century beekeeper saying shows how valuable a swarm of bees is to a beekeeper, depending on the time during the swarming season. These days, depending on the location of the apiary, swarming starts as early as April. It can last till as late as August.
What is swarming?
Swarming occurs when the space available in a hive for a colony of bees is getting too small for the population. The queen and thousands of worker bees “swarm”. The swarming usually happens in two stages.
The bees that are swarming would have identified a new hive to move to. At the date and time they decide to swarm, the queen and all the workers she is taking with her will come out of the hive, cluster on a tree, wall or any other item. When they are ready, they all “swarm” to their new home.
If you saw a swarm of bees on a tree in your front garden. If you leave them alone, they will actually leave eventually. The transit state of the swarming process is when honeybees are most docile. They rarely even sting when they are swarming.
Honeybees or bumblebees? If you are not sure whether the bees on your property are honey bees or bumble bees. You may find more information about bumblebees here: https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/
We are pleased to announce our first log hive making workshop in Herefordshire. As a participant, you will learn the skills you need to make a log hive. You will learn to design and make a log hive to stand on stilts, or to be placed securely, high up on a tree. A log hive is like a bee hotel for honeybees. It mimics the preferred home of honey bees in nature. Offering insulation against the cold in winter and a barrier against heat in the summer months.
Once you learn the skills you need to build a log hive, you are ready to build one for your garden or for family and friends, helping to save and encourage bees conservation in your area.
The workshop includes discussion on the life cycle of bees in the wild, how to prepare a hive and encourage bees to move in. There will be a wider discussion on how to help honey bees and other pollinator insects.
Honey bees are probably the most domesticated insects in the world, if you can describe keeping bees as domesticating them. We have been so successful at keeping bees, that their “wild” cousins, living freely in their natural habitat are not so common any more.
An awesome project called Free Living Honey Bees promotes and shares the joy of seeing honey bees spotting in their natural habitat. You can find information about wild honey bees from the UK and around the world on the website. If you spot a wild bee colony, you can share pictures and videos of it with the community.
Walnut and Squirrel the Indian runner ducks at The Hive
We are excited to welcome Walnut and Squirrel to The Hive. They were two of a clutch of six fertilised Indian runner duck eggs we put in an incubator some 30 days ago. The two lively ducklings are absolutely delightful to watch as they run around eating, drinking or just chilling out!