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Beekeeper’s Notes: It Isn’t Too Late To Avoid ‘Insectageddon’

Published on: 1 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 30 May, 2022

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon

Our bees are looking good. The spring nectar flow has finished now. We hope to extract honey soon and we are expecting a good amount.

A strong hive can bring in 20 lbs of nectar a week, or more. The bees turn the nectar into honey by passing it between themselves, adding enzymes and fanning it to reduce the water content from around 80% down to 20% or less.

It is an amazing feat by these tiny creatures to make the supersaturated solution we call honey.

A lovely strong frame of bees with plenty of brood waiting to hatch out and add to the hordes of workers beavering away in and out of the hive.

As we all do, we hear the continuing warnings about the decline in insects in the UK and globally? Is it too late to do anything about it? Is it insectageddon and we are all doomed?

Around half of the 58 UK species of butterfly are said to be threatened, says the charity Butterfly Conservation. Insect numbers have plunged in some areas of the world by about half say UK scientists from University College London.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s not good and it is potentially catastrophic.

But professor of ecology, Jane Hill, at the University of York and president-elect of the Royal Entomological Society, says it is too complex to come to a doomsday scenario yet.

There are winners and losers amongst insect species, she says. Nature is dynamic and, with evidence of shorter-term periods of recovery, there is “a decidedly more optimistic picture than you might imagine”.

She says researchers are worried (too right) but “we should be focusing our efforts to ensure the actions we are taking to combat the climate crisis are also benefiting biodiversity”.

That must go for Guildford as well. Any decisions we make must put biodiversity as a priority.

Existential is an over-used word but losing our insects really is existential. It is too important to get it wrong.

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