INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BEES
- Whilst everyone knows that Honeybees produce honey, not many know that the pollination of plants they perform is worth three times as much to the UK economy as the honey they produce!
- Bees and other pollinators are vital for the pollination of all sorts of fruits and vegetables producing about one third of all the food we eat!
- Mankind’s survival is entirely dependent upon the pollination of those foods. It highlights why it is so vital for us to look after all our pollinators.
- Plants produce sweet smelling nectar to attract the bees then, as the bees drink the nectar, the pollen grains are caught on the bee’s hairy body. As the bee moves from one blossom to the next the pollen grains rub onto the next flowers stigma creating seeds to develop into our fruits and vegetables.
- Honeybees take two things back to the hive – pollen on their back legs which provides the protein to feed the baby bees, and nectar which is later processed into honey by the bees.
- The nectar the bees take back to the hive is 80 per cent water and 20 per cent sugar. Bees fan the honey all day and all night to drive out the water until it is only 17-18 per cent water. Honeybees don’t sleep at night!
- Honey is the ONLY food which doesn’t rot – a jar of honey was found in one of the Pharaoh’s tomb which was still perfectly edible! The bees seal the honey with wax when the desired water content is reached and then it will keep forever.
- A honeybee colony produces about 700-800 lbs of honey each year, most of which is consumed by the bees. A beekeeper collects an average of about 40 lbs – depending on a good season.
- A pound jar of honey contains about one million tiny pollen grains.
- Honey has anti-biotic properties. Whilst the health benefits of manuka honey is well known all honeys have some antibiotic properties. A recent BBC article describes research being carried out at Cardiff University to examine the antibiotic properties of nectar from different plants – dandelions are thought to have strong antibiotic properties. Link to article here.
- Honey is such a highly valued treat that HONEY ADULTERATION is a major worldwide problem. Recent research has shown that honey adulteration is now the third worst in the world – after milk and olive oil. Honey is adulterated by adding other sweeteners such as rice syrup to increase the volume of ‘honey’. Cheap imported honey is blended and heated which can destroy many of the nutrient elements and damages the flavour.
- Clare O’Connor sent this article from the Observer (Sunday 26th March 2023) – recent tests conducted by the European Commission showed that all 10 samples provided by UK suppliers were fraudulent! See link to the Observer article below:
In the February edition of the Devon BKA magazine, DEFRA supplied a statement suggesting that Honey Adulteration doesn’t require any further action. My interpretation is a highly politicised statement bowing to pressure from the supermarkets and their suppliers to avoid doing anything about the real problem of Honey Adulteration. (N.B ‘My interpretation’ is my (Basil Strickland) personal view, not that of the Exeter BKA).
- Jill Blackett sent the following link from the Guardian website with an end of November update on honey adulteration – note their very careful use of language! https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/nov/28/bee-aware-do-you-know-what-is-in-that-cheap-jar-of-honey?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
- HONEY ADULTERATION again. This is another article with more ‘direct’ language highlighting the problems with and concerns about adulterated honey – https://latinhoneyshop.com/blogs/news/11-shocking-facts-about-supermarket-honey
- ASIAN HORNETS
Bumblebees see off Asian Hornets! Research by Exeter University Scientists shows that Buff Tailed Bumblebees have developed a strategy for fighting off Asian Hornets. A link to the recent BBC Article is here – found by Jill Blackett.
Think you might have spotted an Asian Hornet – please see attached guide to help you differentiate between the Asian Hornet and other similar insects. The Asian Hornet is regarded as a MAJOR THREAT to British Honeybees and regarded as a high priority call by DEFRA.BeeCraft Asian hornet poster 171121
- Bee Boles.
Before the invention of the modern hive in the late 1800s bees were often kept in straw skeps. However the colony of bees was then killed to extract the honey. Below is a picture of the Hartpury Bee Shelter used for housing up to 28 skeps. The Hartpury Bee Shelter is described as ‘a unique historic monument’ and ‘there are no similar structures known anywhere in the world’.“The Bee is small among the fowles, yet doth its fruite passe in sweetnesse”
Ecclesiasticus Ch 11 v 3
Emergency (??!!) approval of neonicotinoids for sugar beet. DEFRA has re-authorised the emergency use of thiamethoxam, a type of neonicotinoid, known to be lethal to bees, wasps and other pollinators. The move comes only a month after Therese Coffey, the Environment Secretary, committed the UK to halving the impact of pesticides on the environment and despite the Government’s own expert panel recommending against the move. Michael Gove joined the European ban on neonicotinoids only a few years ago because of the damage to honeybees and other pollinators.