How you can help bees

The Bri­tish Bee Keep­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Adopt a Bee­hive scheme is help­ing to save strug­gling bee pop­u­la­tions – and you can too

EADT Suffolk - - Gardening -

OVER the course of the last few years, the health of the UK honey bee pop­u­la­tion has been sub­ject of con­cern. Poor weather, the loss of habi­tat, the de­struc­tion of bee colonies by dis­ease and the con­tin­ual un­cer­tainty re­gard­ing the impact of pes­ti­cides have all af­fected the honey bee.

Why does this mat­ter? Per­haps the most im­por­tant rea­son is be­cause bees are pol­li­na­tors that are ab­so­lutely vi­tal to the food chain. One third of the food we eat would not be avail­able to us, were it not for pol­li­na­tors, of which honey bees are the most pro­lific. In the UK about 70 types of crops rely on, or ben­e­fit from, pol­li­na­tion.

LIFE IN THE HIVE

In every hive, there are thou­sands of bees. The large ma­jor­ity are worker (fe­male) and drone (male) bees. How­ever, there is one bee who isn’t like any other – the queen bee. Her sole job is to lay eggs that will grow into worker and drone bees. In ad­di­tion to eat­ing honey, the queen bee eats royal jelly, a mix­ture full of pro­tein made in the glands of worker bees, which gives her the en­ergy to lay up to 2,000 eggs a day. She also looks dif­fer­ent to the work­ers and drones – her ab­domen is big­ger, her tail and wings are longer, her legs are brighter and she usu­ally looks smoother and shiner than the other bees.

The queen bee is es­sen­tial to the day to day run­ning of the busy hive – with­out her there sim­ply wouldn’t be the bees to pol­li­nate crops and make de­li­cious honey.

TIPS FOR CRE­AT­ING A BUZZ IN YOUR GAR­DEN

What­ever the size of your gar­den, or win­dow box, ev­ery­one can do their bit to help the honey bee by plant­ing beefriendly flow­ers and shrubs.

Leave an area of your gar­den to grow wild – this can look pretty and pro­vide a great source of nec­tar for bees.

Grow sin­gle petal flow­ers – it’s eas­ier for honey bees to ac­cess the nec­tar and pollen from flow­ers which have petals in just one row, such as daisy or for­get-me-not.

Learn to love weeds – clover, dan­de­lion and ivy are very im­por­tant sources of food for honey bees. Only old ivy plants pro­duce flow­ers and berries, so if you can let yours grow for at least two years it will be­come a great source for na­ture.

Plant flow­ers in bright colours – bees see in the ul­tra­vi­o­let colour spec­trum and it causes red and green hues to look sim­i­lar. By plant­ing white or yel­low flow­ers you will be mak­ing them more eas­ily vis­i­ble for the honey bee to find.

YOUR CHANCE TO ADOPT A BEE­HIVE

Are you in need of a per­fect gift? For peo­ple who want to learn more about bee­keep­ing, or to help the honey bee in other ways, the BBKA’s Adopt a Bee­hive scheme en­ables any­one to adopt a bee­hive from one of 10 dif­fer­ent re­gions in the UK.

To cel­e­brate Easter, we have one Adopt a Bee­hive set to give away. The prize in­cludes a year’s sub­scrip­tion to the scheme, worth £36. All prof­its go to en­vi­ron­men­tal and ed­u­ca­tion projects, so you’ll be help­ing with­out get­ting your hands sticky.

For a chance to win an­swer to the fol­low­ing ques­tion:

WHICH OF THE FOL­LOW­ING WOULD YOU FIND IN A BEE­HIVE?

A: PRINCESS BEE B: QUEEN BEE C: KING BEE

Email your an­swer with ith your name, tele­phone num­ber and ad­dress to suffolkmagazine@ archant.co.uk plut­ting ‘Adopt a Bee­hive Com­pe­ti­tion’ in the sub­ject line.

Terms and con­di­tions Com­pe­ti­tion closes April 30, 2018. En­trants must be 18 or over, one en­try only per house­hold. Em­ploy­ees of Archant, and their rel­a­tives, are not el­i­gi­ble to en­ter. For full terms and con­di­tions go to www.eadt.co.uk/ terms-and-con­di­tions-7-135

A bee col­lects pollen and nec­tar. Photo: Pamela Bidwell.

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