With beautiful flowers in bloom across the country and new shoots pushing through soft soil, I began thinking about the little black and yellow soldiers who contribute to the array of colours we are fortunate enough to have in the warmer months, and which continue to buzz around our lodge kitchen frightening and irritating all who try and pass. Did you know that honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning?
These tiny little creatures are so important for sustaining life on Earth yet humans are so quick to destroy them when they cause any inconvenience to their lives… how ironic. That annoying buzzing sound you hear as a bee zooms by is actually his tiny wings beating at a rate of 200 beats per second actually defying the laws of aerodynamics being able to fly at all as the body is far too large for the size of the wings. Honeybees fly up to 15miles (24km) per hour collecting pollen in order to create that sweet honey we adore so much. One honey bee will only produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its’ entire life, while the workers must travel up to 90 000miles (144 000km), the equivalent of three orbits around the Earth, to produce only 1kg of honey!
Honeybees have complex communication systems and are able to recognise kin through odours. Each hive is equipped with a unique odour enabling individuals to find their way back to the hive after visiting up to 100 flowers after a days’ work. Worker honeybees are only female and like most females are the only bees with a sting. They do all the work for the hive but live for only six weeks during the busy summer months.
The practice of beekeeping and honey collecting dates back to the Stone Age. Mankind has appreciated and enjoyed the spoils of bees for centuries yet now we face a decline in bee numbers. Honeybees are responsible for 80% of pollination in plants and are the only insect which can produce a food for human consumption. In many cultures around the world, the honeybee is a highly respected insect with rituals which must be completed before honey is extracted from the hive. Bees are not aggressive by nature and will only sting when they feel threatened. The sting of a bee is not fatal unless an individual has an allergy, and even so it takes approximately 1100 stings for the sting to be fatal.
It is not uncommon for bees to build their hives in our gardens where we like to enjoy the sunshine and watch our children play. While we know that bees are so important to life on earth we are concerned for the ones we love and would rather not see them in pain or in a life threatening situation which could be avoided. Should you have a problem with bees a local beekeeper is only a phone call away. Bees will follow their queen and give their lives to protect her. By moving the queen you get rid of the bees as well as do your part for the environment by saving thousands of bees which will happily continue to pollinate your garden so that it remains beautiful throughout the summer.