Heike: Mum, what do you like most about bees?
Anne: A colony of 30,000 bees dedicate their lives to protect, nourish and care for their queen and her offspring. Day in, day out, thousands of bees labour calmly beside each other. My bees are the best mindfulness teachers I could ever imagine.
Heike: Bees and other pollinators are responsible for the pollination of three quarters of the plants that produce 90% of the world’s food. Why are they so efficient?
Anne: One reason bees are such good pollinators is their ability to communicate with each other. When a bee finds a lush patch of flowers, she can do a dance back at the nest and recruit plenty of other bees to help her collect pollen and nectar. This “waggle dance” informs the others about the distance and direction of the patch. Her colleagues are then able to find the spot which can be up to 3km from their hive. Prior to leaving the hive, her fellow bees can identify what kind of flower to look out for: they can tell by the smell of the dancer.
Heike: How can services provide a bee-friendly environment?
Anne: Bees are exposed to many threats such as poisonous fertilisers and pesticides. The good news is that a few small changes to our environment can have a positive impact on bees. For instance, education and care services with a yard or a rooftop garden can plant a bee meadow with all the delicious flowers and plants bees love and need to flourish. There are many resources available to educate yourself about bee-friendly gardens and you can buy bee-friendly flower seeds pretty much everywhere.
Heike: Is there anything centres without a garden can do?
Anne: Absolutely. Bees get very thirsty in hot weather and they might run out of water. To keep them hydrated, children can prepare small shallow containers with water and a few pebbles to provide pleasant and safe rest areas for busy bees. Insect hotels are great too. They can be set up pretty much anywhere outside and are important places for bees and other insects to rest and recharge.
Heike: What can children do to protect bees from getting sick?
Anne: Just like humans, bees get sick when gathering in crowds, for example to grab a free food sample. Imagine a group of people trying to get a free serve of ice cream – bees are just the same. They crowd in an empty glass of honey inside a garbage bin to get a share of the free honey. This is dangerous for bees because one sick bee can infect all the others, which can lead to the extinction of a whole colony. To prevent this from happening, make sure to always wash honey glasses before they go into the bin.