Monday, 29 October 2012

Can we have too many bees?

I recently spotted an article in The Independent that raises concerns over the humble honey bee.  No, it wasn't about this summer's awful weather, or about infections being spread by the varroa mite, it was about truly well meaning people and organisations who are doing their best to help the species by setting up urban hives.

The article states that in 2008 there were 1,617 (very precise number) bee colonies in London and the surrounding area and by this year, the number has more than doubled to 3,337; BUT the average honey yield from each hive has dropped - exact figures are going to be released in late october/early november.   The London Beekeepers Association suspect that there may be more bees in London than there is food to sustain them.

That makes sense....I kinda liken honey bees to my free-range chickens.   Jennifer and Jemima are able to mess about in my garden scoffing slugs and bugs all day long, but I still give them proper chicken food...just to be sure that they do have enough nutrients.   In return I recieve more eggs than I can cope with and end up giving them away to work colleagues.

With Bees, making sure they are well nourished must be pretty difficult.  After all, even though they are classed as livestock, they're not fenced in and only the bestest James Bond type gadgets could ever tell the beekeeper what they get up to in a day.

So, should beekeepers also plant flowers?  I think so. If you want to benefit from nature, you should return the compliment by making some sort of contribution.  Whether it be creating a living green roof, planting a wildflower meadow, filling a window box with colourful bee-friendly blooms or donating to one of the many charities that have the land and the resources to do whatever is needed to support these tiny but essential creatures.

PS  Does anyone know how many flowers are needed to support a colony of honey bees for one summer?  I'd love to find that out
Post a Comment