The great honey drought
Winter viruses and the wettest August for years have combined to leave Britain’s beehives dry
In 26 years of beekeeping, Ged Marshall has never seen anything as bad as the 2008 honey harvest. A miserable summer that has confined his bees to their hives following a winter bedevilled by deadly viruses means that production this year will be barely a third of its usual level of around five tonnes of honey.
Unfortunately for the nation’s honey lovers and apiarists, Mr Marshall’s experience is far from unique. According to the British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA), up to a third of Britain’s 240,000 hives failed to survive last winter and spring due to disease and poor weather. The result is a drop of more than 50 per cent in honey production across the country.
We were talking the other day about bees. Especially since this year we’ve received so many calls, emails seen dozens of local Craigslist postings asking folks to take and find home for bees that have swarmed into their homes and neighborhoods.
Wondering why the recent resurgence in city bee sightings. If bees are dying and plagued with CCD how is it that the presence of bees here in the city have exploded.
Farmer D, being a long time beekeeper, came up with a pretty simple and logical (possible — stress possible) explanation. With most of the bees being raised in rural areas where mono (chemical) agriculture is prevalent their diet is restricted and they are more susceptible to disease. He explains “what if a human were restricted to eating just one thing – even if it were good, you would be missing certainly vital elements for a healthy life.” Makes sense. They why the explosion of bees in the city? Farmer D went on to say, “Just like when bears or wildlife are forced into the urban areas looking for food, the cities are now a refuge for bees providing them with a variety of flora in which to feed.” Ah, there’s that key word – variety or diversity.
Of course, no one can really know for certain. With observation of your surroundings, one can only ask why and take a educated guess.
Perhaps our cities are the next honey meccas and bee refuges? Now urbanites more than ever should concern themselves with the basics. It’s all about the birds and the bees. Planting gardens that encourage our winged friends.
Here on the urban homestead our parkway strip is a beneficial border that attracts all sorts of wildlife – bees, butterflies, birds, lady bugs and praying mati. Throughout the entire garden are plants that attract bees like african blue basil, echinacea, mints, golden rod and more.
Let’s hear from you -have you noticed an increase or decrease in bee populations in your area. Shout out bee sightings!