I’ve been reading “Natural Beekeeping” by Ross Conrad, as recommended by our Bee Man, Martyn. The author advocates an organic approach, and his writing reminds me of Values Party treatises. I haven’t finished the book, and it’s due to go back to the library, but I’ve learned lots of interesting facts.
- The honey bee Apis mellifera is the only creature in the animal kingdom that does not kill or injure any other being as it goes through its regular life cycle. They damage not so much as a leaf. In fact, honey bees take what they need in such a way that the world around them is improved.
- It’s important to be cool, calm, and collected when you’re near a hive. Bees are more likely to sting if you are grumpy or off balance. I’ve walked close to our hive (in a calm, collected manner, of course) and there’s never been any indication that the bees might attack.
- Most bees are female – logical, but not something I’d thought about. I rather like the idea of an extra 20,000 female be(e)ings in my garden. The male bee’s only job is to mate, and they die shortly afterwards. The females are left to care for the young, clean out empty cells, make honey, and forage for food.
- The vast majority of the bees’ activities are done for the good of the colony as a whole, rather than to benefit any individual. The strength of the honey bee – a prehistoric insect that originated in Africa more than 30 million years ago – can be traced to its ability to co-operate, which calls into question Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest. Apparently Charles Darwin, in his later years, seems to have become convinced that love (or altruism) was a stronger force that the survival instinct.
“They’re fascinating creatures, bees
– co-operation devotees.”