During the bank holiday weekend I took part in the Great British Bee Count. As we all know, bees are essential for our own survival, but they are rapidly declining due to a number of factors including heavy usage of strong pesticides, climate change, and the stress of the same bees being trucked from field-to-field to pollinate many different crops.
The Great British Bee Count is an annual survey that anyone in the UK can take part in by simply counting the bees that they see in a certain area, whilst noting the species of bee that they see using an easy identifier. This information is then sent to experts at the Friends of the Earth organisation where they can then determine which species of bee are most at risk of extinction, and therefore need the most help to ensure that they do not die out as others have done in the past.
Last year, 15,000 people took part in the survey and so far this year 100,855 bees have been recorded within just 12 days of the month-long survey period.
All you need to take part is the app called ‘the Great British Bee Count’, which can be downloaded for free. From here you can view the most common species of bee that you are likely to see, as well as some rarer bees and bee-look-a-likes. Once you have the app, you simply click the plus sign next to the photo when you see that particular bee.
Taking part is a fun activity and a chance to see how much nature you really have in your own garden or local park, at the same time as being able to learn more about bees. I did my survey with my 8 year old godson who loved scrolling through the app and discussing which bee he thought we may have found. With just one walk around my garden in about half an hour we managed to find 41 bees from 6 different species, including the honeybee, the banded white-tailed bumblebee and the early bumblebee.
The decline of bees is a problem for all of us due to our heavy reliance on them for the pollination of a large variety of food crops, from coffee to strawberries to almonds.
If you would like to read more about why bees are so important, you can read an earlier article that I wrote which explores this in more detail.
But for now, here are five fun facts that I bet you never knew about bees. Use them to impress your friends and spread the word about the Great British Bee Count:
– A bee’s wings beat 190 times a second, that’s 11,400 times a minute – no wonder it’s so difficult to take photos of them!
– Bees are the only insect in the world that make food that people can eat
– Honey contains all of the substances needed to sustain life, including enzymes, water, minerals and vitamins
– Each colony smells different to bees, this is so they can tell where they live
– Bees communicate by smells called ‘pheromones’ and by performing special ‘dances’ to show the other worker bees where a good supply of pollen is
I have many many more bee facts which will be featured on my Animal Fact Of The Day on my instagram @acctojess, so head on over there and click follow!
You have until the 30th June to take part in the Great British Bee Count and do your part to save the bees!
Send me your photos of the bees that you find and let me know what your favourite species is over on my Facebook page!