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
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.