Live and let live

There are about 20,000 bee species around the world and without them, we would probably lose about a quarter of all the food we eat. Looking at a display of some of these species, Adrian Chiles admits to killing some of them thinking they were wasps. But that is the problem. There are 264 species of bee in the UK alone and some of them don't really look like bees. Three in the display are actually flies, pretending to be bees - so it can all be a bit confusing. Most people think of the cartoon version of the bee, a furry yellow and black striped insect. It's the bumblebees which look close to this version, but there are many others species. In the studio is a small display hive of docile bees The queen is very obvious with a yellow paint mark on her back, she is busy laying eggs in all the cells of the hive to produce more worker bees. These docile bees mean you don't have to wear a beekeeping suit for protection, but they can still sting if they get agitated or upset. Bees prefer not to sting, as the barb on their sting means they find it difficult to pull out of your skin. Wasps don't have this barb and can sting numerous times during their lifetime. There has been a gradual decline in bee numbers over the last 50 years and if this goes on the results could be more immediate than global warming. George McGavin tells us that we need more bees, more individuals looking after them, more wild areas, fewer agricultural areas and pesticides, and a lot more flowers in our gardens.

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