It’s well documented on these websites that we have a love of wildlife, so we were saddened to hear this news about bees suffering from the effects of the wet summer, in an email from Barry which read:
“As we all like to have a good walk around Cleveleys going about our daily business, I wonder if you have noticed (as we have) that there are a lot of bees that seem to be laying dead on the floor.
“My daughter first pointed this out when the other day we noticed five of them scattered around in various places around the pavements. Then that night I noticed an article (on TV) that was talking about this very occurance and revealed that due to the extremely wet weather that we’ve been having throughout the summer period, the bees have been unable to go out of their hives to gather pollen as they usually do around June onwards throughout summer.
“Sadly, this has literally meant that they are starving to death, usually dying whilst out of the hive trying to gather pollen due to starvation, or within the hive itself.
“Now hive owners have been trying to feed them as best as possible by feeding them sugar syrup but it’s a shame that our weather is having such a dramatic effect on literally tens of thousands of bees lives.”
Barry sent the link to the article on the ITV News West Country website which states that in that area bee keepers are reporting honey production to be down by as much as 50%. Last winter, colony numbers in England also fell by 16.2%. Staple crops that bees rely on, like fruit trees, have had their blossom affected by the bad weather.
The British Beekeepers Association says:
“Honey bees are important pollinators and we rely heavily on them for much of the food that is on our plate in one way or another. All sorts of crops are pollinated by honey bees, including fruit and many vegetables.”
We had seemingly large numbers of bees in our garden earlier in the year, which I took to be nesting in what looked like an old mouse hole in the border. Thinking about it, their numbers do seem to have dropped, although I’ve not been out much either to say so with much authority!
In previous years we’ve had nests in our garden, which I’ve been thrilled with and enjoyed watching them buzzing in and out collecting pollen and feeding their young. Unlike the bad tempered wasp, bees will generally avoid stinging you unless you do something to provoke them, and quietly go around minding their own business, so they aren’t a garden threat.
So what can you do?
We’ve contacted the British Beekeepers Association and asked for their advice for immediate help that you can offer, and we’ll keep you posted.
Longer term, you can increase the number of flowering plants in your garden, providing different species which will flower all the way throughout the year.
When bees come out of hibernation in Spring they need food, right up to autumn. Simple flower shapes are best, without complicated double petal arrangements. Make your garden a haven for bees, and include an area which is wild and undisturbed where they can both nest and hibernate.
Advice from the British Beekeepers Association:
People can help in a number of ways. Planting for bees is one obvious way and there are lots of sources of information about what to plant. Our website has information and leaflets to download which detail shrubs and trees which bees like. We often forget that trees can be an important source of pollen and nectar for bees.
Now is a great time of year to think about becoming a beekeeper. Many local associations run training courses through the winter to teach people about beekeeping so that they are ready to start with their own colonies in the spring. To find the details of your nearest beekeepers association again our website can help.
If beekeeping is not for you or you don’t have the room you can become an armchair beekeeper by joining our Adopt a Beehive scheme – details can be found at: http://www.bbka.org.uk/shop/product_category/adopt-a-beehive/
Pear tree blossom, ideal early food for bees
Foxglove, easy to grow and perfect bee food
Hawthorne – flowers prolifically and birds enjoy the autumn berries