In only a few weeks Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) will decide on how the UK votes on whether toxic, bee-keeping pesticides will be banned from our farms. Many of us, DrBeekeeper included, have tried to encourage people to raise awareness of this vital issue. We know neonicotinoids are bad (they even sound bad!) so this is our chance to make a difference.
If you agree with us that British fields should be free of toxic, bee-killing chemicals then join us in supporting the 38 Degrees campaign to apply pressure to those in power and help make a stand for our precious bees.
It’s that time of the year as the weather warms and the bees start buzzing happily in the countryside. Today, as we had our daily dose of delicious health-enhancing raw honey, at DrBeekeeper we asked the question – how many bees does it take to produce a teaspoon of honey? Any guesses?
Incredibly, on average a worker bee will produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime. So it takes 12 worker bees to produce a single teaspoon of honey! Taking that further, to produce 0.5lb (227g) of DrBeekeeper honey it takes about 30,000 bees travelling 27,500 miles and visiting more than a million flowers to gather the nectar required.
We can’t wait to see the bees this weekend as the weather warms above 12C so it’s warm enough to open the hive and check their all OK. Bees truly are the most incredible, special little miracle workers who sweeten our day!
This summer DrBeekeeper visited a fantastic new installation called ‘The Hive’ by Wolfgang Buttress at Kew Gardens, London.
The Hive is constructed of thousands of pieces of aluminium trussed together to form a lattice or honeycomb effect. It really is awe- inspiring to look at!
Now here’s the clever bit… the structure is fitted with speakers and LED lights which respond to the energy levels in a real, active hive on the Kew site. The light and sound patterns change in line with surges in activity in the parent hive. The installation encapsulates all the senses associated with being a real bee in a working hive. The Hive is set in a garden of wildflowers and grasses, which deserve appreciation on their own.
A must see for anyone interested in beekeeping and botanical art.
I had no idea that organic honey was such an important export industry for Cuba. Incredibly all of the honey produced in Cuba is certified organic. This is due to the absence of pesticides – the government was simply unable to afford to buy pesticides… DrBeekeeper would love to try this honey and will keep you posted!
DrBeekeeper came across this really interesting article about the drop in honey production in parts of Pakistan. It seems that environmental degradation combined with increased use of chemical pesticides and unseasonal rains in recent years, possibly due to climate change, may be to blame. Check out the full article here. It’s a very good read.
Beekeeping has traditionally played an important role in economic development. Honey is not only a major commodity in the West, but a staple food all over the world. Bees for Development, is an amazing organisation which works to promote beekeeping as a tool for sustainable economic development amongst some of the poorest and most remote communities across the world. They focus on:
Educating and informing beekeepers about sustainable beekeeping
Helping beekeepers access a market for their honey
Connecting beekeepers from all over the world; to learn from each other and to share experiences.
We are proud to sponsor this fantastic charity recycling 10% of profits into Bees for Development every year. You can find out more about Bees for Development here.
You might think winter is not a good season for flowers and so bees simply hibernate. This used to be the case and still is in much of our countryside. But in recent years we have had some very mild winters (particularly in towns and cities). This combined with an influx of garden plants that flower even in deepest winter (many of which are not native to the UK) has meant that pollinating insects, include winter-active bees can thrive all year round.
The buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) maintains winter-colonies mainly in the south of the UK.
Bees active during the winter face loss competition and can collect nectar and pollen very efficiently. You can help winter-active pollinators by planting winter-flowering perennials, shrubs, bulbs and climbers in your garden and at the same time enjoy some colour and scent.
Mahonia – starts flowering from November onwards (depending on the species) and the scented yellow nectar and pollen-rich flowers attract bees. A large shrubs with often spiny leaves so needs space to grow. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun or part shade.
Winter-flowering honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissmima) – is a deciduous evergreen shrub up to 2 m tall with very fragrant white flowers which open from December onwards. Grow in moist but well-drained soil in full sun or part shade.
Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) – is a large evergreen shrub with small bell-shaped white to pinkish flowers which open in November and December. The Strawberry tree thrives in a sheltered spot on well-drained soil in full sun.
Lungwort (Pulmonaria) produces blue, pink or lilac flowers in late winter, set against white-spotted foliage, in early spring. It makes good ground cover in a moist, shady spot.
“The EU commission should expand the EU-wide ban to cover all uses of neonicotinoids on all crops, and end the self-service approach to derogations. Viable non-chemical alternatives exist and the EU should encourage farmers to use them.”
Use of neonicotinoids by farmers has been linked to dramatic declines in bee populations. The EU’s recommendations do however allow exemptions to the ban under certain circumstances, which unfortunately the UK government has invoked to relax restrictions.