Did you know there's around 250 bee species in Great Britain?
Most of these are solitary bees and bumblebees, but there are species of honey bee.
They may be tiny but bees are essential for a healthy environment and healthy economy. But right now, the bees are in trouble. Since 1900, the UK has lost 20 species of bee, and a further 35 are at risk.
We need to know more about brilliant bees, and find out how to get the county buzzing again with bee-friendly plants in gardens, streets and communities.
Ways To Help Bees
Plant flowers for the bees
Find a nice patch of soil and sprinkle over some wildflower seeds. Press them into the soil with your fingers. Water and wait for the flowers to grow!
Make a drinking pond
Bees need to drink just like humans do. Pour some water on an old plate and place on a non-wobbly surface outside. Look out for bees stopping by to have a drink.
Leave grass to grow wild
Fence off a bit of space in the garden with some sticks and just leave the grass to grow long and tall. All sorts of different bees make their homes in long grass.
Bees You May Spot In The European Summer
- White-tailed bumblebee Yellow and black bands and white tail. There are 24 types (or 'species') of bumblebee in the UK. They are usually larger than other bees and look fluffy because they are covered with thick hair. You can spot the white-tailed bumblebee from early spring until autumn
- Red-tailed bumblebee (male) Yellow ruff around face, black body and red tail
- Hairy-footed flower bee (female) Jet-black body and orange back legs
- Honey bee Long, slim bee that makes honey. This bee lives with other bees in a hive, and is the only bee to produce honey. When a honey bee finds nectar, she goes back to her hive and does a 'waggle dance' to show the other bees where it is
- Common carder bee Mainly brown or ginger body but shade can vary according to location
- Leafcutter bee Look like a honey bee but cuts neat semi-circles from leaves
- Red-tailed bumblebee (female) Black body and orange-red tail
- Tree bumblebee Ginger thorax, black abdomen and white tail
- Ashy mining bee Black body with ashy bands across the thorax
- Tawny mining bee This bee is a 'solitary bee' which means it lives alone. The tawny mining bee feeds on garden plants and fruit trees. It often digs its nest in lawns — look for mounds of soil and a small entrance hole
Sundial's 10 Bee Facts
Sundial has over 300,000 honeybees in the grounds of its two venues; Highgate House in Northamptonshire and Woodside in Warwickshire.
The bees are part of the group's ongoing commitment to sustainability and caring for the environment. while helping to reverse the decline in bee population. Here's 10 things you may not know:
- Bees live in colonies with other bees and work in co-operation with each other.
- Bees not only make honey. they pollinate flowers and plants which helps develop a thriving natural environment for fruit and vegetables to grow.
- Bees use the sun and landmarks to find their way.
- A bee has five eyes and can see ultra violet light.
- Bees have special 'baskets' made of stiff, curving hairs on their back legs to carry the pollen back to the hive.
- Bees survive the winter by eating stored honey and keeping warm with other bees.
- Bees use a 'waggle' dance to show other bees where to find a food source.
- Bees have an expert sense of smell. They can differentiate hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carries pollen or nectar from metres away.
- A bee flies to thousands of flowers to make just one spoonful of honey.
- A bee's brain is only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has capacity to learn and remember things. It is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency.
How Is Honey Made?
Honey gets its start as flower nectar. Nectar is almost 80% water with some complex sugars. Nectar collected by bees and taken the hive, naturally breaks down into simple sugars when stored in honeycombs. The unique design of the honeycomb, coupled with constant fanning by the bees' wings, causes evaporation to take place, creating honey.
Bees add enzyme that break the sucrose in nectars down into fructose and glucose. The bees make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings. it evaporate the resulting nectar plus enzymes solution down to under 20% water. Honey is the result a thick, sweet liquid. Each nectar is different and contains volatile aromatic substances that give honey its flavour.
What Is Propolis?
Propolis is a natural substance collected by honey bees from buds and trees.
Propolis contains tree resin, essential oils, waxes and bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are one of the most important components in propolis.
The antioxidant effects of bioflavonoids may help to maintain a healthy immune system. This unique natural substance is subject to tests for potency and quality.
Recommended Reading On Bees (UK Books)
Beekeeping For Dummies 9781118945469
Bee Keeping (Digging and Planting) 978-1783613885
Get Started in Beekeeping (Teach Yourself) 978-1473611832
The Bee Keeper's Problem Solver 9780600630128
The BBKA Guide to Beekeeping 978-1472920898
Backyard Bees 9781743365083
Entomology is the scientific study of insects, a branch of zoology
See plumpton UK for courses in farming also visit friends of the earth foe.co.uk and see #greatbritishbeecount