World Honeybee Day is almost here, so what better chance for us to shout loud and proud about our amazing buzzy pals once more?! Honestly, we could talk all day and all night about how vital and cherished honeybees are to the whole Hilltop team! We’ve no intention of changing that any time soon, so settle down with a nice up of tea (sweetened with honey, naturally) and let’s dive into exactly why World Honey Bee is so important to us- and why it should be top of your agenda too.
What is World Honeybee Day?
World Honeybee Day is celebrated every year on the third Saturday of August. And the intention of the day? To remind us (as if we needed reminding!) of the absolute beauty and necessity of bees. To remind us that we should be doing all that we can each and every day to protect them. To remind us that it’s up to us ALL to ensure their survival, in a world increasingly kitted out to destroy them.
The fact is, our honeybees are currently facing extreme dangers every single day. From the use of pesticides to the loss of habitats- and not forgetting the voracious varroa mite too. As if the first two weren’t enough, the latter attaches itself to the honeybee to suck its blood, leaving the poor bee to then take viruses and disease back to the hive. Recent reports suggest that the varroa mite is one of the main causes of bee colony collapse in North America- and the startling and devastating news is that the varroa mite is now in the UK too.
Why should we care about World Honeybee Day?
So knowing how the honey bee is under threat is all well and good…. But why should we care? There are SO MANY reasons.
Like other species of bees, honeybees are crucial for our survival. We need them to help fertilise our crops so that we can produce food. According to the Soil Association, UK honey bees were once responsible for 70% of the pollination that took place in the country. They are now only capable of supplying 34% of our needs.
Let’s also not forget the other huge benefit of honeybees - honey! Not only do we enjoy eating the delicious fruits of their tireless labour, but we use other products such as beeswax and pollen for various reasons too.
What do Honeybees do, anyway?
We know they pollinate crops, and we know that they produce delicious honey for us to enjoy. But that’s not all they do. Honeybees are capable of so much more! Each member of the hive has a specific job, perfectly designed to ensure the smooth running of the production line. We’re talking nurses to take care of the others, caretakers to ensure the hive is clean and tidy, foragers who leave the hive to gather pollen. Each honeybee has a special job, and they do it amazingly well.
Fun facts you might not know.
There’s so much about honeybees you might not know! For example, they never sleep. Ever. They’re too busy! They can fly at 15 miles per hour, and just 28 grams of honey is enough to fuel them around the entire globe! Honeybees will visit between 50 and 100 flowers each time they forage, and it takes around two million flower visits to make 450 grams of honey. Now you can see why they don’t sleep!
The difference between honeybees and ‘regular’ bees
Here in the UK, the Apis mellifera (or European) bee is the only species we have that produces honey. But aside from the honey, what’s the difference between honeybees and ‘regular’ bees?
First of all, their appearance. Bumblebees are bigger and more rounded than honeybees, and they have a fuzzy appearance thanks to the dense hair that covers their body. Bumblebees can also vary in colour, whereas honeybees don’t- shades of yellow and brown are common for honey bees, and that’s about it.
The two bees also behave quite differently too, with honeybees being a lot more social. They have a queen, and they live in large colonies with a rather sophisticated social structure that enables them to work together. Honeybees also have a preference for making a home high up in trees, or in wall/ cave cavities- or man-made hives, of course. In contrast, bumblebees prefer more temperate climates, with small nests hidden in the ground.
Make no mistake though- while World Honeybee Day is all about the honey bee, other bee species also deserve our protection against danger too- ALL bee species are vital for pollination, whether they produce honey or not.
How can YOU support World Honeybee Day- every day?
So how can YOU support World Honeybee Day- and not just for one day per year, but every single day? Here are five easy ways:
- Attract bees to your garden. Grow plants they love, leave it a little longer between one grass cut and the next, eliminate the use of pesticides. Make your outdoor space a safe haven for bees!
- Educate yourself about bees. Did you know that Hilltop Honey was born out of our founder Scott’s natural curiosity (which quickly grew into a complete fascination!) about bees? In learning just how amazing they truly are, a passion for these amazing little creatures was born- and knowing so much about them is one of the reasons why the entire team places their welfare so high on their list of priorities.
- Eat sustainable honey. Support your local beekeepers, so that they can continue to care for honeybees and so that we can all appreciate the wonder that is the honey bee!
- Teach kids about the importance of protecting bees. It starts with us- and if we want future generations to understand the scale of the problem, we need to teach them the solutions.
- Revive tired bees- but then, let them be. Mix two teaspoons of white sugar with one teaspoon of water and either put it on a plate, or drip onto a flower. This will help to revive tired bees, but you don’t need to do anything else at all.