The first PDBKA meeting of 2022 was via zoom. Gill Perkins, CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, joined us to talk about “The Plight of the bumblebee”. Gill acknowledged that, as beekeepers, we are aware of the importance of pollination to our lives and the importance of all bees in that process but she suggested that the 24 species of native bumblebees have the edge on the honeybee where efficiency and industry are concerned.
Able to work in cooler temperatures than honeybees, bumblebees rise earlier in the year and earlier in the day; With longer tongues and the ability to vibrate their bodies they can reach pollen honeybees can’t enabling them to work horticultural crops unattractive to honeybees ….and, to save their fellows visiting flowers already stripped of their food prize, they leave a ‘footprint’ scent on each flower visited.
To help horticultural pollination thousands of boxed bumblebee colonies are imported each year. Strict rules apply and no colonies are allowed to escape into the wild to unbalance our native bee populations.
Gill encouraged us to do two things to help the bumblebee:
Grow nut trees to encourage mice and voles, abandoned mouse holes being the perfect bumblebee home. Apparently, early in the Spring when emerging from hibernation, the queens can sniff out a mouse hole.
Talk to children about bees and pollination.