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Beekeeper’s Notes: A little Surprise Turns Up On The Allotment

Published on: 1 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 2 Aug, 2021

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon

One of the great pleasures of beekeeping is the unexpected.

A colony you are convinced has no queen suddenly starts to produce brood. A tiny hive goes into overdrive and ends up twice the size you expected.

A small surprise swarm arrived at the allotment.

Or a couple of weeks ago on the allotment, a small swarm arrived and took up residence in a stack of empty hive boxes in my apiary. They look good, the queen is laying well and so thank you nature and the bees for providing such a lovely surprise.

I saw an article recently which shows just how quickly firmly held beliefs can change. A couple of years ago, it was very fashionable to have bees installed on a corporate roof. It sent all the right green signals of sustainability, caring for the environment with honey thrown in as well.

What could possibly go wrong with that!

Now there is a realisation we don’t need more honey bees. Too many hives in one area can overwhelm local species with their sheer numbers and their (and their keepers) voracious appetite.

Rather than more managed bee colonies, we need to turn the tide of declining insect numbers. We have to save and increase natural habitats and encourage our wild insects, said to be eroding at 10% a decade, to thrive again.

The Wildlife Trust says three bumblebee species have become extinct in recent decades and almost one in 10 species of wild bee face extinction.

Insects are too important to our planet and to humans to risk their destruction.

We have to defend every last area of green, every tree and field and bush. It is no longer acceptable to say a development will only have a small adverse impact on the environment. It all adds up and we are all paying for it.

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