They have an incredible work ethic, maintain a community, and most importantly, produce honey. For these reasons, scientists have always taken interest in these tiny insects. Beeswax is the wax secreted by honey bees. Beeswax is used to build honeycombs. Fresh beeswax is white in colour but the natural impurities like pollen give it a light yellow or dark brown colour.
Almost 90% of wild plants and 75% of leading global crops depend on animal pollination. One out of every three mouthfuls of our food depends on pollinators. Crops that depend on pollination are five times more valuable than those that do not.
Bees can be found living in so many locations, some surprising. Let’s list a few…marshes, shingle, sand dunes, soft cliffs, heathlands, wetlands, chalk grasslands, quarries, gravel pits, sea walls and even post-industrial land.
Imagine trying to travel around Britain without our road and rail network. Or imagine if nine out of every ten miles of road just didn’t exist – life would be impossible! B-Lines are an imaginative and beautiful solution to the problem of the loss of flowers and pollinators. The B-Lines are a series of ‘insect pathways’ running through our countryside and towns. They link existing wildlife areas together, creating a network, like a railway, that will weave across the British landscape.
If you find a bumblebee which appears to be struggling, it may be that it is just resting, particularly if the bee is a queen in early spring. If you think the bee is struggling the best thing to do is gently put the bee onto a bee-friendly flower.
If there are no bee-friendly flowers around, mix 50/50 white sugar and water to give the bumblebee a one-off energy boost, providing the carbohydrates it needs to fly. Simply offer a drop or two of sugar water up to the front end of the bee on a teaspoon or an upturned drinks cap in a sheltered place and allow the bee time to recuperate.
(It is not advisable to use brown sugar as it is harder for bees to digest and don’t give bumblebees honey as this can contain pathogens.)
We can all do our bit to help bees whether that’s in our gardens, balconies or windowsills. You can also chat to friends and family about how cool bees are and help them to make their wild spaces bee-friendly.
Plant a range of flowers in your garden so bees have access to nectar from March to October. Bees love traditional cottage garden flowers and native wildflowers, like primrose, buddleia, and marigolds.
Honeybees have a dance move called the ‘waggle dance’. It’s not actually a dance move at all, rather a clever way of communicating between themselves to tell their nest mates where to go to find the best source of food. It took the researchers at Sussex University two years to decode the waggle dance.
The buff-tailed bumblebee has a brain the size of a poppy seed. Which is incredible given the fact scientists have managed to train them to score a goal in ‘bee football’ in return for a sugary treat. Quite unbee-lievable!
If the queen bee dies in a honeybee hive the workers can create a new queen bee. They do this by selecting a young larva and by feeding it special food called ‘royal jelly’ the larva with develop into a fertile queen.
Employee of the month
Meet Bee-yoncé, our top honey producing bee this month. Congratulations from everyone here at Cotton & Grey HQ (Hive Quarters).