It Starts with a Bee is a lovely illustrated book for children, as they watch a tiny bee bring the world to bloom. With lyrical text and enchanting illustrations, this book takes you on a journey through the seasons, as you follow a busy bee pollinating a wild garden. Don’t encourage bees if you live with pets (avoid bee-friendly plants, perfumes and candles). See make your garden safe for pets, to know flowers and mulches to avoid near pets.
Avoid bee houses, experts say they cause mites that can stop bees flying (and attract predators). Planting flowers is the way to help bees. See make your garden safe for pets, to know toxic wildflowers to avoid (it’s best to avoid planting bee-friendly flowers near furry friends, to avoid stings).
The Bee Bible is a book about these tiny, hardworking insects that have transformed our lives with their quiet diligence. They fertilise the wild plants we rely on, and have given us thousands of years of pleasure. But bees are in danger across the planet, and their numbers are plummeting. This book shares 50 ways we can all save bees. Whether you garden for bees, campaign for bees or just learn a bit of bee-whispering, little things can make a big difference. Just ask a bee.
Bees are amazing little creatures, they work their whole lives (around 8 weeks) to make honey for the Queen Bee, but are severely endangered due to lack of pollen (their metabolism is so fast, most bees are always just 45 minutes away from starvation). And they (like most wildlife) help to pollinate most of our food. Mobile phone masts also affect their sense of direction, so only use your phone when needed. You can buy a Waspinator (looks like a brown paper bag) to humanely deter territorial wasps. Hornets are bigger than wasps with chestnut-brown bodies, but won’t sting you, if you leave them alone. Also see the post on natural remedies for bee stings and plant-based alternatives to honey.
The Little Book of Bees helps you discover the fascinating story of these marvels of nature. We need bees, and bees need us. So this is the ideal companion for any bee fan, to protect the future of our buzzy little friends. Learn:
- Why bees are under threat
- How bees are essential to our existence
- Different species of bees
- A guide to bee habitats
- Bee folklore
- How to help bees!
Why Flowers Are Safer than Bee Houses
Bumblebees are big with yellow & black stripes, and flap wings 200 times to take off (their bodies are not too heavy to fly, this is a myth). Honeybees are mostly from commercial hives (the Queen bee hibernates in the ground each year). Solitary bees (hovering in front of walls or leaving mounds of earth on lawns) don’t make honey or have a Queen to protect, so are less aggressive.
Despite having a brain the size of a sesame seed, a bee’s mathematical skills match a toddler: he can shake his tummy to show others exactly where the pollen is, using a ‘waggle dance’ for other bees (they have 2 stomachs: one for food, one for pollen). The main predators of bees are badgers, spiders and birds (who rub them against branches to remove the sting, then eat the insides).
Biologist Colin Purrington says most bee houses are death traps as they are poorly sited and bees are ‘terrible at landing’ so can’t usually access them safely. They are also impossible to clean, so bees get so covered in pollen mites they can’t fly, then die (bamboo straws don’t dry out and cause disease). Social bees attract a ‘big free feast’ for predators. Colin says that most bee houses are made from the wrong materials and like ‘having a hotel with a maid that never cleans’. Bees can get knocked off their pollen ball if windy.
He says that not all bee houses are bad, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best instead to just work with nature to provide natural homes. Entomologist Gwen Pearson says to grow an organic lawn, don’t trim winter stems and leave bits of wood, leaves and dead spots in your yard instead. Avoid chemicals and garden strimmers, and use nontoxic wood stain for fences, sheds & garden furniture.
Planting Bee-Friendly Gardens
The Bee Bible offers 50 ways to help these tiny, hardworking insects who live with quiet diligence; fertilising our wild plants and giving us thousands of years of sugary pleasure. But bees are in danger, so looks at how to garden for bees, campaign for bees or just learn a bit of bee-whispering. Little things can make a big difference. Just ask a bee!
For solitary bees, bee bricks are sometimes recommended, made from Cornish recycled clay. However, you have to follow certain advice on care, to make them any good. Bee Brick fits into building projects and walls). Bees drink water, but add pebbles or gravel to shallow water bowls, so bees don’t drown.
Dave Goulson (professor of biology at University of Sussex) says they are a displacement activity, as having a few bricks in houses is not going to make much difference, and could be used as greenwashing that are removing natural habitats for bees in the first place, by getting rid of wildflower meadows, to build building.
Stranded, Unwell or Injured Bee?
Most bees on the ground are just resting (up to 45 minutes) or dying (they only live 8 weeks). So if you rescue them, you could do more harm than good, or prolong suffering at the end of a bee’s life. If you are sure that the bee is just ‘tired’ from lack of flowers, the best solution if you can, is to pop it in a flower somewhere nearby, if it’s safe to do so (or nearby: you’ll soon see it drinking nectar to regain strength). Bees don’t travel far, so only place it near the hive.
If you are absolutely sure the bee needs an ‘energy drink’, you can offer sugar-water. You only need a tiny amount: Bee Saviour Cards offer 3 cells of sugar-water in a recycled credit card or use 2 drops of an eye-dropper (shallow dish) of 50/50 white sugar (never use brown sugar, molasses, sweetener or xylitol).
If you find a wet bee, you can again place it near a flower in a shady/sunny place. If you find a bee inside your house, use a piece of card to gently relocate it outside, and use mesh to cover house entry gaps (not air vents). The kindest thing to do for an injured bee (if someone has trod on it) is a quick stamp to ‘Bee Heaven’ as it won’t recover. If you have a swarm of honeybees, local beekeepers can humanely remove them to a new home.
I see the bees buzzing, collecting a little nectar here and a little nectar there. Never too much. Never a flower has complained that a bee has taken too much nectar away. Nature in balance. But this balance is tipping. Human beings go to nature and take, take, take. Bees never do that. If I can learn that lesson of simplicity, I will be learning the art of living. Satish Kumar
Little Bee introduces children to nature’s hardest worker. Learn what happens in the nest, what pollination is, who the queen is, how honeybees talk to each other, and why bees are so important. Little Bee has over 100 sisters and a few baby brothers, that all live together in the nest with the Queen. Little Bee introduces young readers to her family, to explore the nest together.