Thursday, 16 June 2011

Save the Bees!

Today’s post comes from Paul Taylor, a Reader in the Benefice of Pocklington Wold and a beekeeper. 

Honey bees, bumble bees and mason bees are important to the environment and for the most part, quite harmless if left well alone. They are busy getting on with living; building a home, rearing young and storing food. They have been doing this successfully for millions of years. The natural world has come to rely on them for pollinating flowers in fields or forests. Then along came man!

We like the sweet taste of honey and though the bees resist our interventions with their suicidal sting, we have persisted and following in the footsteps of monks and others, the art of beekeeping has grown. In Victorian days it was at its peak of popularity in this country but has steadily declined; that is until now. The awareness of the role and benefit of bees in the environment has caught the public imagination and there is resurgence of interest. Research into bee and their diseases is of major interest, especially at the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) in Sand Hutton.

Gardens have more bee friendly plants and shrubs like heather and hawthorn. We are putting up with bumble bees sharing our clipped lawns and warm, safe eaves. You can buy or make a bamboo mason bee home. Allotments are becoming a place for bee hives because they ensure good pollination of peas, beans, strawberries and so on. World wide, bees make a huge contribution to the economy particularly in the pollination of fruit trees.

Food for the bees brings food for us. As well as pollen, bees also need water and nectar. You can help them by having a small pond and a ‘wild garden’ with clover and honeysuckle. There is more local honey nowadays in Yorkshire; try it and taste the difference.

For details of local beekeeping visit York Beekeepers, Yorkshire Beekeepers and FERA.

Paul Taylor

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