This week I wanted to look at blasting away some myths about bees. They are such wonderfully little things that it’s only fair we get rid of some of the erroneous facts about them!
It’s a common myth that all bees can sting. In actual fact, male bees cannot sting because the stinger is actually a modification of an egg laying mechanism which only female bees have. Even then though, many bee species cannot sting at all. It’s also a myth that bees who can sting, won’t sting at night. That’s not true either – they will sting if they feel they need to protect themselves.
It’s a myth that every bee lives in a hive. In fact only about a tenth of bees are social bees, and even then not all of them build hives. Most bees are solitary and live in their own nests which they build in soil or trees. It’s also a myth that if you block the entrance to a nest then it will kill the bees. In actual fact, that will probably have the effect of making them really angry, and they can burrow out in different directions – imagine if this was a nest in the wall of your house and instead of them flying in and our in a calm relaxed manner, they got really grumpy and burrowed the other way – IN to your house! All of a sudden you have a house full of angry bees! Probably better to contact a local company to address the nest.
All Bees work hard… Afraid not! Many male bees, for example, do very little work. And solitary bees don’t do much work either. It’s only female stingless worker bees along with honey bees and bumble bees that work hard. But they do indeed work very hard.
There are ways that we can help nurture bee populations in our localities. One of the best ways is to grow plants which are rich in pollen and nectar. You can also create “bee hotels” and “bee nests”. Finally you can be alert to bumblebees who are shattered and be aware that you can create a wonderful first aid nectar by mixing warm water and sugar, and placing it next to the bee’s head.
Let’s all pull together to both understand and encourage the humble bee.