Summer time is almost here and the outside world is waking up. We can see more flies and other insects flying around and first bees are making an appearance.
Bees have always been a symbol of strong work ethics, and there is a very good reason for this. A beehive works as one organism. Individual bees know their role and cooperate with their beehive colleagues every day, fulfilling their duty and ensuring the survival.
Veterinary doctors and medical texts often address a beehive as if it was one living organism and if you look closer at the structure of their small society, it makes sense.
There is no other animal that would live in such close and highly specialised group.
Did you know?
-There are more than 20 000 kinds of bees
-Worker bees are all female
-Average lifespan of a worker bee is 1-6 months depending on the time of the year
Their unusual lifestyle is only one of the reasons why we as humans, should be interested in bees.
Even though many members of the insect family help us to pollinate our crops, bees are one of the most useful and most efficient ones. Bees are responsible for up to 80% of the pollination worldwide. They collect nectar and pollen for their own needs but in the process, small amount of pollen gets stuck to their fuzzy bodies and transferred from flower to flower.
Large variety of plants depends on pollinators. If a flower does not get pollinated, it will not transform into fruit.
Many bees are struggling to survive due to the changing environment but also because humans are transforming the landscapes into monocultures and widespread cities.
This poses a danger to bees, since they need to cross longer distances to get to the flowers.
How can you help?
Plant flowers. Try to find a spot for a small flower pot and plant a mix of flowers. There is several bee-friendly mixes available. Most of them contain a mixture of wild flowers which are easy to grow. This ensures that your building will be a welcome resting spot for bees on their daily journey, in search for food.
Consider making a bee drinking station. Simple dish with a couple of stones half submerged in water will be enough. This gives bees safe spot to drink if they need water. Many sources such as rivers or canals are not suitable places for bees to get water. They face danger of drowning or being attacked by fish and birds if they fly near the water surface.
If you find an exhausted bee, try to transfer it to a nearby flower in the shade. During extremely hot summer days, bees can run out of energy or get overheated. Some experts suggest feeding the bee with sugar water. This might not be an option if you are out and about, but if you decide to do this, make sure the bee looks otherwise healthy and that you are only giving it a couple of drops to drink from. Sugar water is not a long term fix and it is not the optimal solution.
Please never feed the bee honey, since commercially produced honey can contain substances which are toxic for the bee.
Prevention is always better than trying to fix a problem once it already exists. Try to give the bees in your neighbourhood the best summer of their life and prepare for the season with flowers and safe water bowls for our busy fuzzy friends.