Fad number 106: Beekeeping!
Bees are awesome. Forget your governments, business moguls and celebrities – these tiny winged stalwarts are the ones really ruling the word! Unfortunately, as their empire is in decline and as a lover of honey, I wanted to help: a fad for beekeeping was born.
Actually, ever since I watched Pushing Daisies I had notions of having a beehive. I imagined I’d own a multitude in some urban, rooftop utopia, where I’d prance around in vintage dresses and the world would be painted in Bryan Fuller’s glorious colour pallette. I even convinced my school to bring a beekeeper in for a visit, mainly to educate the children (a little bit so I could dress up in the protective suit!)
Back in my non-daydreaming state, despite having the poor man’s version of Ann Friel’s dresses and hair, I soon discovered that beekeeping was serious business! I could take training courses and shell out money to buy a hive, but long term there was a lot of responsibility to being an apiarist. The last thing I wanted was an urban swarm I couldn’t contain due to lack of expertise or not taking it seriously enough – something that is unfortunately on the rise as more city dwellers opt for an eco-friendly, self-sufficient lifestyle.
There was, however, another way I could help the bees – because let’s face it, they need all the assistance they can get. I could be a bee carer, encouraging these amazing pollinators into the garden and helping them stay nourished throughout the year. So today, I’d like to share with you some amazing facts and tips to save the bees, hopefully encouraging you all to love and protect these fabulous creatures.
So why bother about bees in the first place? Some of you might think they’re a nuisance, buzzing about in your face whilst trying to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in the garden. In fact, there will be some people with a phobia or an allergy to bees who would rather see them disappear. But as with all nature, eradication of a species could spell disaster for the planet, as a domino effect takes place. This is especially true of bees.
– Einstein –
If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live.
Did you know that without the assistance of the humble bumble, honeybee or other similar pollinators, around 80% of the world’s food would disappear? Their tireless flitting about from flower to flower keeps us fed! If that’s not mind blowing enough to convince you they need our help, then check out the fab facts below. Have I mentioned how amazing they are?!
- A bee needs to travel around 55,000 miles and visit around 2 million flowers to make a pound of honey.
- One ounce of honey would fuel a round the world trip for a bee.
- Girl power: Aside from the drones used for reproduction, all other bees are female and do the hard work!
- Bees have remained unchanged for 20 million years.
- They use ‘smell’ ID cards to gain entry to the hive and perform a ‘waggle dance’ to direct other bees to pollen.
- In its lifetime, a single honeybee will only produce 1/12 tsp of honey.
- Honey (the only substance created by insects and eaten by man) is also the only food that includes all the necessary components to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water.
So how can you help? The main reasons for bee decline are use of pesticides, a parasitic disease and loss of habitats / feeding grounds. The good news is it’s very easy to tackle at least two of those at a personal, garden level! No matter where you live, or how little space you have, even the smallest window box or container can provide much needed resources for a hungry bee. Couple this with the health benefits of gardening, there’s no reason not create a mini bee haven!
- Plant a range of flowers to provide food throughout the seasons: e.g crocus in spring, lavender and foxgloves in summer and later flowering buddleias to see you into autumn.
- Provide a bee-bath: a shallow dish of water with pebbles to ensure fresh drinking water. Adding a teaspoon of sugar will revive flagging fliers too!
- Create a bee-house. Solitary bees need somewhere to nest as it gets colder. You can make these from plastic bottles or buy them cheaply from garden centres.
- Bees are attracted to mainly blue and yellow flowers, that are easily accessible (not showy, fussy petals that are hard to navigate). ‘Simplest is bestest!’
- Don’t use pesticides in the garden. You can always try natural ways to combat pests, such as encouraging ladybirds to do the hard work (you can even buy ladybirds to release, but I’m not sure how I feel about them being sent through the post ), removing them by hand or do what I do and just let nature take its course!
- Buy local honey to support the beekeepers.
- Encourage others to do the same! It would be fantastic if all cities could have a bee-highway like the one recently introduced in Norway but until then, you could have a neighbourhood food bank for bees by throwing out a handful of wildflower seeds or simply not cutting the grass as low.
That’s it. Simple really considering how important bees are. I don’t ever like to sound preachy, but this really is something I’m very passionate about so even if it’s just provided you with an interesting fact to make you think (and that might score you a point in the pub quiz!), as always, thanks for reading. 🙂
Image Credits: Pinterest and my own.