My ‘Wow’ day watching bees…

I recently stumbled onto the most amazing book written by Doug Purdie called “Backyard Bees”.Apart from having a great cover (yes, I do judge a book by its cover!) this book is written tonot only inform the reader about how unbelievably amazing bees are, but to also offer advice and guidance on how to be a backyard beekeeper.

What really appealed to me about this book was a sentence in his Introduction, which reads,

“I have read just about every bee book there is and they are often so dry and preachy that no bearded hipster is going to pick them up”.

Bearded hipster…. How cool is that?

I’m sure you’ll agree that beekeeping could be mistaken for being a little bit daggy – something only the older generation would be interested in and, let’s be honest, honey just exists on shelves in the supermarket ALWAYS. It’s never not there!No-one really thinks about where it comes from and how hard bees work to give us the nectar of the buzzing insect gods.

Next time you hit your local supermarket, go to the honey aisle. Have a look at how much space is dedicated to honey. How many different types of honey can you find? Yellow Box, Leatherwood, Red Gum, Blue Gum, Iron Bark, Stringbark, White Clover, creamed honey… the list goes on.

Now look at how many different bottle types there are – glass jars, plastic jars, squeezy bottles, ‘I-look-like-a-cartoon-bee-hive-bottle’. It’s all there every day for the taking when we are ready to replenish our depleted supplies.

(Quite honestly, who’s ever seen a beehive this shape?)

Now I want you to consider this for a moment…  What if there was no honey?

More importantly – what if there were no bees?

Trust me. If bees disappear, we, as a race, are well and truly screwed!

Do you realize that for many countries, this is becoming a very stark reality?

Do you know that bees worldwide are slowly but surely being eradicated by a number of diseases and the truth of the matter is, the human race is responsible!

It is suspected that the use of pesticides plays a major role in the overall impact on hives. The two main diseases, Varroa Mite and Colony Collapse Disorder and are genuinely causing significant concern for the future of bees and colonies as we know them. These diseases weaken colonies to the point of collapse on a massive scale. The United States and Europe are hardest hit to date, but quite honestly, it is considered by the experts that it will only be a matter of time before we have both diseases on our shores soon.

So in a nutshell, bees are really in trouble and, as it currently stands, all we can do to prevent their demise is to hope like crazy that a solution is found quick fast to save them. It’s time we acknowledge their hard work and all they do for us and try to find a literally life-saving solution for them.

Studies undertaken in Europe and North America have found positive results from planting vast areas with wildflowers on farms and leaving patches of natural vegetation to help boost pollinator populations. By growing and protecting these ‘natural’ areas, the population of natural predators will also increase, thereby reducing the need for pesticides.

Yes, this is great news. However, it should NEVER have come to this!

Just for a minute, lets just say that we did lose our bees? What would we eat? Have you contemplated the process that takes place with those divine little busy bees whilst we go about our everyday business? They are working non-stop – constant ‘busy bee’ activity that allows us to enjoy the simplest of pleasures in the form of food. Their colonies consist of a highly organized hierarchy and run like clockwork. Their entire ecosystem is one super organized, well oiled insect operation.

Now, if you’re looking for some work with not too much pressure, no overtime and offering the opportunity to work outdoors, here’s one option:

Yes, SERIOUSLY. No bees means that people will have to manually pollinate the flowers! South West China are already using human intervention to pollinate their apple and pear orchards. Their wild bees were eradicated as a result of the excessive use of pesticides and a vast lack of natural habitat. Hand pollination requires someone to pollinate every individual flower with a paintbrush and pollen that is carried around in a pot. They also use children to climb up to the higher points of the tree to pollinate the blossoms. Whilst labour is readily available (and cheap) in China and populated sufficiently to manage a number of orchards, the stark reality is that there are not enough people in the world to hand pollinate our crops and plants.

Without bees, our diets will be so limited. Imagine a culinary world without berries, apples, pears, peaches, melons, pumpkins and zucchini, brussel sprouts (maybe that’s not so bad!!) – the list is endless. Surviving on wind-pollinated crops such as barley, wheat and corn does not sound attractive at all.

I’m assuming you feel the same as I do – I love flowers (and bees!) but I certainly don’t wish to spend my days manually pollinating them.

I feel very strongly that nature intended for this to be the way it works:

Yes, SERIOUSLY. No bees means that people will have to manually pollinate the flowers! South West China are already using human intervention to pollinate their apple and pear orchards. Their wild bees were eradicated as a result of the excessive use of pesticides and a vast lack of natural habitat. Hand pollination requires someone to pollinate every individual flower with a paintbrush and pollen that is carried around in a pot. They also use children to climb up to the higher points of the tree to pollinate the blossoms. Whilst labour is readily available (and cheap) in China and populated sufficiently to manage a number of orchards, the stark reality is that there are not enough people in the world to hand pollinate our crops and plants.

Without bees, our diets will be so limited. Imagine a culinary world without berries, apples, pears, peaches, melons, pumpkins and zucchini, brussel sprouts (maybe that’s not so bad!!) – the list is endless. Surviving on wind-pollinated crops such as barley, wheat and corn does not sound attractive at all.

I’m assuming you feel the same as I do – I love flowers (and bees!) but I certainly don’t wish to spend my days manually pollinating them.

I feel very strongly that nature intended for this to be the way it works: