Our bees need a healthy, flower-rich and bio-diverse landscape to forage. They require a plentiful source of nectar and pollen, propolis and clean water. Bio-diverse and nutritious forage is so vital and there food and water must be free of pesticides, contaminants that could damage there health.
Honey bees and flowering plants have evolved together over millions of years. Without flowers, we would have no bees, and without bees we could not have flowers. They are inter-dependant. Our bees collect nectars, high in sugars, from flowers. This carbohydrate gives them the ability to thrive, to create and build wax comb for their hive structure, and to maintain and regulate the temperature of their nests. Pollen provides the proteins, lipids and micronutrients necessary to raise their young. In this process of nectar and pollen collection, bees pollinate the flowers, enabling sexual reproduction and adaptation to occur. Propolis (resin collected from tree buds and sap) is their medicine: it contains anti-viral and anti-microbial compounds and disinfects the nest. Water is used to cool the nest in summer, and to dilute stored honey for them to eat.
Bee populations are declining as a result of “multiple interacting causes of death”(4). These are human-induced: flowerless landscapes, monocultures (which become food deserts for bees for much of the year) and pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides). When bees are malnourished, diseases and parasites have greater impact. But the situation is remediable: everyone can plant bee-friendly flowers, and stop contaminating them with pesticides. Trees are good sources of food and nest sites, hedgerow shrubs provide shelter and forage through the year, and native flowers in meadows and verges provide pollen and nectar at crucial times of reproduction and preparing for winter.