Plight of the bumble bee

This summer, the BBC joins forces with the National Trust for a national campaign, launching on Monday 17 May to investigate the plight of honeybees in Britain.

The Bee Part Of It campaign is supported by BBC Local, Springwatch and wildlife presenter Kate Humble, who now manages her own bee hives at home.

Bees are the world's most important pollinating insects and honey bees are worth around £200 million a year to British agriculture. Their dramatic decline in numbers recently has become a cause of global concern.

Bees, along with other pollinators like butterflies, moths, beetles, and hoverflies are crucial to the entire ecosystem.

Albert Einstein is alleged to have once said that, without bees, humanity would die out in four years - now there's a scary thought!

Perhaps Hollywood should stop making movies about apocalyptic global warming scenarios and focus on the extinction of bees instead?

As Iolo Williams recently mentioned - the biggest threat to our planet is mankind and it is us who will ultimately suffer. Nature will resume, long after we're all gone...

As part of the build up to this campaign I've been asking you to send in your best bee photos. Here's a gallery of some of the best ones so far.

All native bees have been in decline for some time and a combination of factors are believed to be responsible: habitat loss, pesticides, and disease are key.

A bee by Steve Tynant:

Recent poor summers have also caused enormous damage to honey bees: a third of all colonies were lost in 2008.

Matthew Oates, the National Trust's Chief Conservation Advisor, says: "Bee consciousness is vital and we can all help; we can do simple things like planting bee friendly plants and flowers to encourage bees into our gardens. We want more people to understand the crucial role that bees play in our food chain."

The main focus of this campaign is the honey bee, and as part of this project, Radio Wales has adopted two new hives on National Trust property.The first will be at Dinefwr in West Wales. The second hive location has yet to be confirmed.

Each hive comes with a bee keeper who'll look after the hive for the summer and hopefully deliver up to fifty jars of honey at the end of the season. I've already bought a new toaster! ;)

We'll monitor the hives progress for the duration, and you'll be able to follow the story locally on the Jamie & Louise show as well as on the BBC Wales Local websites.

We're also giving away packs of bee friendly flower seeds in June (details to follow), and bees will feature at the Springwatch Wild Days Out.

In the meantime, find out which species of flowers are bee friendly from the RHS website and get planting.

Bee keeping isn't just a rural operation - bees can thrive in villages, towns, and cities, as long as the conditions are right.

Bee Facts:

  • There are 250 species of bee in the UK consisting of bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees.
  • Pollination delivers €14.2bn to the European economy, most of this is through bumblebees and honeybees.
  • Bumblebees have smelly feet. They produce oily secretions to inform other bees which flowers have already been visited
Source: The Bumblebee Conservation Trust

That's it for now. If you've got a story concerning bees in Wales then do get in touch. I can mention it here in the blog and pass on any useful information to colleagues involved in the campaign.


Having trouble identifying bees? Try the BWARS image gallery.


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