The worldwide decline in the number of bees is a very worrying phenomenon. A couple of years ago, when word of the bee decline started to get a mention in the news, we got hold of a copy of A World Without Bees by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum, which gives a troubling insight into the devastation of the bee population, albeit largely based on what had been happening in the USA.
Whether the decline is a result of pesticide use, increased commercial monoculture, or diseases caused by pests such as Varroa mites, it does increasingly look as if we humans are at least partly responsible. The statistics are worrying indeed; according to Benjamin and McCallum, in 2008 one in three hives in the USA had been decimated and the problem is mirrored around the world in many other countries.
As bees buzz around the flowers gathering nectar, they play a vital part in pollinating about a third of our food crops by transferring pollen from one plant to another via the tiny hairs on their legs. Without their pollination services, we’d be reduced to the tedious and probably impossible task of hand pollinating crops, or a reliance on the few crops that are wind pollinated, such as corn.
Down on the vegetable plot, we’ve been trying to do our bit by planting a nice selection of bee friendly flowers alongside the veg – it’s good for our own crops, but hopefully it keeps the local bees happy too. The British Bee Keeping Association has been campaigning for greater research into bee health and their high profile campaigning has resulted in thousands more people joining the ranks as amateur bee keepers. It’s definitely something that we’d like to have a go at ourselves one day and it does seem that we have an increasingly important role to play in helping them to recover again if we can.
We couldn’t help noticing a fabulous special offer from The Mary Beale Restaurant at West Lodge Park Hotel in Barnet which has organised a special Bee Keeping Experience for Saturday 25th June. The one day session will give participants an introduction to bee keeping and the production of honey and includes a three course lunch in the Mary Beale Restaurant. It costs £75 per person and can be booked online. Sounds like a real treat of a day to us, so we’re hoping the idea might catch on around the UK!