They sting you and are a damned nuisance in summer but when you think about it, the bee holds the key to man’s existence. Thirty five percent of our food depends on the pollination of crops by bees. Without the work these insects carry out, we wouldn’t survive for very long.
In Britain, a third of the bee hives were lost over the last winter. The reasons are not fully understood but it is thought that the problem was a combination of bad weather, insecticides, lack of wildflowers and the varroa mite which has spread rapidly since it arrived in 1992.
The answer to this crisis lies in two directions; the re-introduction of the native black honeybee which has a larger body and thick hair allowing it to cope with the British climate better than the European bee and the planting of bee friendly plants and trees. Flowering trees and shrubs in particular provide an easy foraging ground for the insects.
When we first moved into our house, there were no bees nor were there birds. In fact there wasn’t any signs of wildlife except perhaps the ants. When I first dug the garden over I didn’t find a single worm.
Within the four and half years, our garden has become a haven for all sorts of wildlife; most welcome, others perhaps less so. The bees are very welcome. Without them there would be no lemons on the trees. Fortunatley we have a succesion of plants, including the large lavender bushes that keep the bees busy for most of the year.