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Feed Those Bees

Feed Those Bees

Richard Morgan Smith’s Latest article from Greenwich Times Magazine, taking in the welfare of bees.
Feed those Bees
It’s a horror story that doesn’t bear telling. Millions have died across America and Europe but the bodies have never been found. No one knows why, the prognosis is awful and a cure is yet to be found.The plight of the Bee is a serious issue since it threatens our very survival. Bees pollinate approximately one third of our crops and, according to Kevin Hackett, the Leader of the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Program,  “their loss is a threat to our food chain”. Speculation is rife on the causes. Their tightly packed colonies have been susceptible to disease with foulbrood (bacterial infection) especially bad. The tiny varroa mite has caused havoc with the larvae but an antidote has recently been found. The latest and most brutal is Colony Collapse Disorder where the colony simply abandons the Queen.These small, complex insects are quite wondrous to behold from their ingenious waggle dance to indicate food (distance and direction) to their self-generation of heat before flight; from their orderly society in which all have their place to a wing stroke of 11,000 times a second (hence the buzz).
So what can we do to help bees survive and rebuild the food chain that sustains us? The most obvious solution is to keep bees ourselves, in the country or even in cities. The British Bee Keepers Association – www.bbka.org.uk/ – is a good place to start with helpful advice to get going. Next on our list is to visit a hive and observe the small creatures – up to 50,000 bees per hive – in action.Local advice is even nearer to home as The London Honey Company – www.thelondonhoneycompany.co.uk/ – visits Blackheath every Month (every third Sunday).  Purveying their honeys, they run short taster courses, the next one due in a couple of months. From how much it costs (£500- £800 including hive, bees and accessories including suit), to which hive to buy to how to look after them in winter, it’s an excellent introduction and an essential next step before moving on to buy bees of your own. Steve Benbow began it a decade ago and he’s passionate committed to this day; “planting urban foliage is the key to it all”.
Too busy to keep bees, then plant bee friendly plants with a myriad of flowers to choose from; hollyhocks and lupins and bluebells and sunflowers and borage and teasel and Hellotropes. Not good with flowers then the solitary bee house – not all bees live tin colonies – is yet another alterative to attract them. You can get close to the bees without being stung although make sure to keep out of their flight path.
Stop using insecticides is the last practical step as studies have shown these don’t help. These are wonderful creatures upon whom we rely and we all have a duty to save them.
www.helpsavebees.co.uk/to_do_list.html.Keen to get started, then visit Park Beekeeping Supplies https://www.parkbeekeeping.com/ all you need on our very own doorstep.
Dick Morgan, May 2013