We can be as busy as them, we can sting like them, if we do really well we’re compared to their knees; they’re the champions of the workers, a sign of healthy nature, a signal of spring.
And since 2018 they’ve had their own day.
20th May is World Bee Day, celebrating and acknowledging the role of bees and other pollinators for our planet.
There are more than 250 species of bees in the UK, they play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, and are essential for our food production. More than three quarters of the world’s food crops are in part dependent on them.
Yet, bee populations are suffering.
The combination of habitat loss and climate change are having huge impacts on bee populations. Individual species are becoming extinct all over the world and many others are at risk.
Bumble bees are temperate insects, and they struggle with hotter, longer summers. The IUCN European Red List of Threatened Species shows that almost 24% of Europe’s bumblebee species are currently threatened with extinction.
Even the honey bee, supplier of our sweetest treat, can suffer from a number of diseases and predators, a combination that can result in colony collapse disorder, when the worker bees abandon the hive.
There’s something about watching a bee flitting around a flowerbed or blossoming bush that brings us feelings of contentment, of life being in balance, of the natural world at work. And it’s reasonable to say that the experience gives us more positive feelings afterwards. And when we feel happy, we’re more likely to respond to ambiguous situations with optimism.
So look out for bees when you’re out and about. If you have a garden, try planting bee-friendly flowers: wallflowers, primrose, forget-me-knots, or best of all pulmonaria and lungwort. During summer, echinops (blue globe thistle) and hollyhock are amazing at attracting bees. The RHS offers a ‘mini wildflower meadow‘, which provides summer flowering British wild flowers, bee-magnets like cornflower, poppies, oxeye daisies and corn marigolds.
The world can’t manage without these hardworking, colourful insects, so help them help us, and be bee friendly.