I recently read a list of 68 pieces of advice, written by Kevin Kelly upon his 68 birthday (here). While not all of them resonate with me “A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier” did.
I think a whole year of study may be a bit much for my purposes, but I have always loved bees so I decided to start there. I bought two secondhand books on bees, NOT textbooks – they will come later if the subject sticks – and read them in the order they arrived.
That turned out to be a good way of doing it. The first book (Plan Bee) touches upon solitary and non-honey bees, but is written by an avid and passionate honeybee keeper. I like honeybees and I very much like honey, but my interest is more towards solitary bees, that don’t necessarily make honey. The second book (The Good Bee) covers those bees in greater depth.
Interesting bee facts you didn’t know you needed:
- Bees have FIVE eyes. Two large compound eyes on either side and three smaller ones on top of their heads. The three smaller ones tell them where the sun is and so how to navigate.
- There are around 25,000 different types of bee.
- The largest bee is 4cm, with a 6.3cm wingspan (don’t worry, it lives on an Indonesian island) and the smallest is 2mm and lives in Australia.
- Bumblebees (my favourites) make up only 1% of all bee types but there are 250 different bumble species.
- It takes 12,000 bee hours to make 1.5kg of honey.
I have no intentions of ever becoming a beekeeper, I am too sentimental. There are far too many ways to lose colonies – pests, diseases and other unknown (but probably man-made) terrors – and that would be heartbreaking each time, but I have decided to make my garden more bee friendly. Many more flowering plants have magically appeared and I even attempted to build a new bee hotel. I turns out I am not particularly good at sawing wood in straight lines and bee hotels are easier bought online, rather than homemade (by me at least).
I am not sure I will keep up the study for a year, but I suspect there may be many more books on the subject of bees in my future.