Plight of the bumble bee

Monday 17 May 2010, 00:00

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron

Tagged with:

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:
bee_stevetynant.jpg

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.

Gull

Having trouble identifying bees? Try the BWARS image gallery.


Tagged with:

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    The biggest threat to bumble bees in the countryside is badgers , not farmers. Due to their protected status they are increasing at an alarming rate. They dig up banks and stone dykes to get at their nests for the honey. They also eat ground nesting birds eggs, and if the chick does hatch then it is a ready meal for buzzards and other protected raptors. Sadly, as one form of wildlife increases it is at the detriment of other more vulnerable species. I have worked on the land all my life and it upsets me to see the decline of many of our farming friends. Please take these comments on board for the benefit of these creatures.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    Thanks David, an interesting point but we can't blame badgers and raptors for everything, can we?

    Badgers have lived in perfect harmony with the birds and bees for 1000's of years - during a time when our impact on the landscape was minimal.

    I don't think farmers are necessarily being blamed either as no-one knows exactly what is happening to our bee populations? The use of pesticides is just one of the possible scenarios being offered.

    Indeed, as you're no doubt aware - some farmers are very environmentally aware and actively farm in ways to encourage wildlife on their land.

    After all, it's of no benefit to farmers if our bees disappear but let's not start blaming the badgers for this worldwide problem.


  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    Its a pity that an article on bee decline is illustrated with a picture of a Hoverfly! Come along there!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    A few probs with the bee pic captions too:
    Picture#1. This is a cuckoo bumble (not absolutely sure of the species). These bees are brood parasites of regular bumbles and never collect pollen. This one is nectaring. However, they can pollinate when nectar collecting.

    Picture#2 2 Male bumbles (Bombus pratorum) photographed last summer. These only gather nectar

    Picture#9 This is a wonderful picture of a Hoverfly (a species of Eristalis). It is nectaring

    Picture#14 A Queen "Early Bumblebee" (Bombus pratorum). This one is also nectar collecting. It is visiting a female Sallow flower, and the female flowers produce no pollen!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    The illustration of " A bee feeding" on this web page is actually a hoverfly (albeit an excellent honey-bee mimic)

 

Comments 5 of 10

 

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
Cambrian Colliery disaster, Clydach Vale, 1965

Friday 14 May 2010, 16:10

Next
Solutions, Caesars Rome, I Am Hope - Barfly, Cardiff, Saturday 15 March 2010

Monday 17 May 2010, 08:20

About this Blog

Behind the scenes on our biggest shows, the stories you won't see on TV & highlights from Welsh history, arts and music.

Follow us on Twitter & Facebook for the latest posts.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

BBC Wales tweets