Bee Blogs – March 2018

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Bee Prayer 
Winged spirit of sweetness, I call on you.
Teach me the ways of
Transformation and fertilisation.
The path from pollen to sweetest honey.
Teach me, to taste the  essence of each place I alight
Carrying that essence with me to continue creations cycle.
Teach me the ways of hope,
Reminding me that what seems impossible
May yet be achieved.
Flitting tears of the Gods
Draw me ever closer to the wisdom
Hidden within beauty.
Give me flight and sunlight,
Passion and productivity,
Co-operation with those around me and
Sharpened strength to defend my home.
May I ever spiral out from my heart
Searching for what I need and return there once again
To tune those lessons into nourishment.
Bee Spirit, I call to you.
The month of April is characterised by increasing day length and rising temperatures  – the days have lengthened but the temperatures are still low. And March was cold though I did get a chance to look through my hives one day when the sun shone. I was shocked at the state of the colonies – particularly my strongest colonies from last year. They are barely alive. This has happened before – the colonies that build up well and work very hard one year are very often the poorest ones the following year. Do they overreach themselves and are worn out the following year? It is a puzzle. I presume the long, wet winter has not helped. I am considering sending off some of the bees to get checked for disease. They had plenty of food but maybe too much of it was ivy honey which they find difficult to use in the winter as they need water to dilute it.
There is little sign of flowers yet- even the dandelions are slow to appear. I hope they haven’t given up in protest at farmers spraying their fields to remove any plant that could deprive their precious grass of space or nutrients. The more I see these huge fields appearing – these green deserts – the angrier and more depressed I feel – hedgerows are disappearing – soon there won’t be a habitat for a rabbit, a bee or a butterfly. What sort of arrogance is this that allows us to dispossess other creatures of a home and a livelihood? I had to get that off my chest. I am planning to write to the Minister of Agriculture to make my feelings known for all the good it will do but I will feel better!
What we need now is farmers who tend their hedgerows as an asset; who let old pastures grow, with their mix of plants and not just cultivate a monoculture of grass. We need to encourage diversity – otherness -it is essential for our flourishing as well as the rest of nature.  A rain forest thrives by virtue of its infinite, interdependent diversity: none of the species could  survive alone.  It is not biodiversity but monoculture that poses the biggest threat.
After all that I notice the chestnut leaves peeping out – chestnut flowers are an important source of pollen and honey. Their flowers have a small patch of yellow which acts as a nectar guide for visiting bees. These turn crimson once the flowers are pollinated – this is important because bees can’t see red and so does not waste time visiting that flower again as it has no nectar or pollen to offer…But then the Japanese have now developing robotic bees to do pollination – they are called Robo-Bees  – bee-like pollinating drone which are designed to make up for the lack of bees in some parts of the world.
This device is made using horsehair, a sticky gel and a drone.  The drones fly into flowers like a bee and inside the flower pollen gets stuck to gel and horsehair  and this pollen is shaken off at the next flew and so on. Surely prevention would be better than the cure. We already have great pollinators on Earth – they are called bees. So instead of building drones that replicate their behaviour, perhaps we should focus on saving the ones we’ve got! Otherwise, we could be working on “Robo-trees” next.
I like the point made by Saint Francis de Sales when he says;
The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them.” I suspect the same would not be true of Robo-bees.  Francis obviously did not know that a worker is a she rather than a he!
Time magazine reported on a study from Harvard’s School of Public Health. It found that pesticides were the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) – the phenomenon in which worker bees suddenly up and leave a colony without warning. The pesticides in question are those that contain neonicotinoids (NNIs) and they are partially or completely banned in the EU, Canada and the U.S.
Murroe Website EditorBee Blogs – March 2018