CAN YOU KEEP HONEY BEES IN THE GARDEN?
Over the past few years, conservationists have become increasingly worried about the current trend for bee populations to crash after being overwintered. In fact, the winter of 2007-08 was positively disastrous, with more than 30 per cent of all colonies failing to reach the spring.
Our native bees and honey bees are responsible for pollinating the majority of flowering plants in this country, which in turn, produce many of our crops. In fact many of our fruits, vegetable and nut crops rely solely on insect pollination and it's believed that at least 1/3rd of our diet is directly dependant on the relationship of flowers and their pollination by bees.
As Albert Einstein observed ‘...No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more man...’
But with most families only having a small garden to their name, is there anything that the average man in the street can really do to help?
Most of the beekeepers featured on TV and in the media tend to be located on beekeeping farms but it is perfectly legal and acceptable in the UK to keep bees in your own garden - and your garden doesn't have to be that big. In fact, some types of bees fare better in more confined areas.
Of course, it helps if you have some prior knowledge of keeping bees and it’s only fair to let your nearby neighbours know what you intend doing, but apart from that, there's absolutely no reason why you couldn't keep bees in your own back. After all, they are one of nature's true 'friends'.
However on a more serious note, many people choose to keep bees much in the same way as others choose to observe birds or to encourage other wildlife into the garden. This is because they are truly fascinated by these creatures.
To get started all you need to do is borrow a couple of beekeeping books from the library and seek out further advice from the BBKA's website. You'll probably find that there's a local beekeepers' association not far from where you live. It's a good idea to get involved with that, in addition to picking up tips from more experienced beekeepers, you can also take courses in beekeeping ranging from basic level to intermediate up to senior. Beyond that, you can even study for a National Diploma in Beekeeping if you want to become even more of an expert and it's well recommended to enrol on a course if you're serious about beekeeping.
Of course, it goes without saying that you cannot use pesticides in your garden if you intend to keep bees.
BUMBLE BEES AND THE AMERICAN FARMER
EDIBLE CROP POLLINATION AND THE DECLINE OF BEES
HOW TO ATTRACT BUMBLEBEES TO THE SUBURBAN GARDEN
NECTAR RICH PLANTS FOR ATTRACTING LONG TONGUED BUMBLE BEES
PESTICIDES TOXIC TO HONEY BEES