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🗞 Planet Bee: World’s favourite insect gets a buzz from lockdown

Clean air, uncut fields, quiet roads are good news for honey-lovers

“It’s a bee! It’s a bee!” cried Catherine the other day.

Here at WoW! Towers in Brussels we were excited to see her buzzing happily among the flowers on our balcony. Here in the city, bees are rare. But this week, we’ve seen several. It’s a good year for bees, it seems.

Why?

Well, people have been staying home because of corona virus. And the bees have been partying in the quiet, cleaner air.

That’s good news if you like honey…

“Born again”

Pierre Stéphan is a beekeeper in Alsace, the region in France where Catherine from WoW! grew up. He’s been gathering honey from beehives for 20 years. He told France 3 TV that his bees were producing loads more sweet treats this spring:

“It’s like we’re born again… I’ve never seen as much honey in 20 years of doing this work.”

In a normal year, Pierre gets about 6 tonnes of organic honey – that’s as heavy as about 200 kids. So just imagine how much honey he may have this year!

Watch a video here of a bumper French honey harvest

There are more plants for the bees to visit and pick up nectar and pollen because farmers and town councils are going out less to cut back grass and weeds.

Fewer cars mean less noise and less stress for bees.

It also means cleaner air. That’s good for all of us. But it’s particularly good for bees because less smelly fumes means they can sniff out flowers more easily and so they need to do less buzzing around.

Busy bees

Bees are really important – even if you don’t eat honey. That’s because it’s the bees flying around from flower to flower that help all sorts of plants to spread seeds.

Without bees, lots of our fruit and vegetables other crops wouldn’t grow.

That’s why there’s a big push to look after our bees. Did you know that this Wednesday, May 20, is World Bee Day? And you can take part!

World Bee Day

Scientists are asking us to take pictures of bees and send them in. They’re going to count the bees all over the world, to see how they’re doing.

You can also help bees by planting flowers. Can you think which ones they like?

In many countries, you can write off for packets of flower seeds that will help the bees if you plant them. These seeds are often free!

If you have a garden, you can help by not spraying “pesticides” – chemicals that protect plants from insects but which can also hurt bees.  And you can even make a “bee hotel”.

These kids will tell you about how to keep bees!
Bees in the city

More and more people like Pierre are keeping bees and making honey, including in cities. Many will be happy to show you their work. So check for beekeepers in your area – and help them (and the bees!) by buying their local honey!

We’ve put some links below to help you prepare for Wednesday. Let us know how you get on with your photographs – and we wish you a Happy Bee Day!

Problem?

Air pollution and chemical pesticides reduce bee numbers; that makes it harder to grow many plants that we eat

Solution!

Plant bee-friendly flowers, avoid pesticides and support beekeepers by buying local honey. What’s not to like!

Grown-ups’ follow-up

Get the lowdown on World Bee Day from the UN’s FAO. It’s full of resources.

Learn more about the World Bee Count and download the app to send photos.

The Los Angeles Times explains the World Bee Count.

Read more about bees doing well under lockdown in Alastair’s home town of Edinburgh and around the world.

Alastair editor of WoW!

Reporting by

Alastair

alastair@wow-news.eu

Production by

Agathe

agathe@wow-news.eu

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