On a buzzier note

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.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for this. What an excellent goal. I will think on that. I enjoy learning.

    It has been a sadness that we have not yet seen a single honeybee this seasons. However, the bumble bees and mason bees are doing well. I deliberately planted a garden that remains in flower pretty much year around (rosemary in winter). Blue ceanothis draws the most bees.

    1. errantmoon says:

      Well now I’m really happy I splurged on the rosemary 😁 They seem to prefer the fuchsias in my little plot.

  2. Doug Butts says:

    Thank you for your wise words, as always. Being male I do appreciate many aspects of colony bee society and would love to see humans taking on some of their ideas. Living in a matriarchy where I am housed and fed purely for my reproductive capability is what my life has been missing. I could finally finish my screenplay.

    1. errantmoon says:

      Considering what happens to them after they fulfil their reproductive responsibilities that had better be an amazing screenplay.

      1. Doug Butts says:

        It’s about a young orphan who discovers she has special powers and slowly learns she is the ‘chosen one’ of an old prophecy and that she has to defeat the evil boss baddie, who seems unbeatable. Is she really a peasant child, or could she be the princess who disappeared the number of years ago that she is old?!? I won’t say any more until I get the concept copyrighted. I’ll know if anyone tries to steal it, now I have mentioned it here.

        1. errantmoon says:

          All I can say is hmmmmmmmmmmm……

  3. I read *QueenSpotting: Meet the Remarkable Queen Bee and Discover the Drama at the Heart of the Hive; Includes 48 Queenspotting Challenges* by Hilary Kearney. Bee life is brutal!

    1. errantmoon says:

      Another one for the list, thank you! A couple of years ago I read The Bees by Laline Paull. It might not sound great, a work of fiction set within a colony of bees, but it soon pulls you in and is really good 🙂

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