As we all know, bees are very important creatures, taking on vital roles in our ecosystems, most notably being amazingly effective pollinators. Bee pollination helps plants reproduce, which allows us to grow crops to eat. In fact, bees pollinate up to 71% of the globes plant-based foods! Over the last 50 years, bee populations have fallen considerably due to climate change, so action is needed by us humans to save their populations.
This year at the PK apiary, local beekeepers Paddy and David have been working hard to help sustain the bee populations in Porthcurno! They are introducing a new type of hive called the ‘Layens hive’ which is perfect for keeping bees more naturally. David explained to me why the Layens hive is the best option for sustainable beekeeping.
“The Layens hive is a horizontal hive, providing the bees with a home that closely resembles their natural home, the hollow of a tree. It was developed by Georges de Layens in France during the 19th century and is much deeper than the standard National hives which are popular in the UK. The Layens hive requires less interference from the beekeeper, which has the benefit of less disruption for the bees. They also provide greater insulation from temperature variations allowing the bees to overwinter more easily. Georges de Layens promoted sustainable beekeeping and minimal management of the bee colony. He spent 20 years perfecting a hive that was both kind to the bees and the beekeeper.”
We are looking forward to seeing how this type of hive compares to the National hives!
Photographing the Beehives
Over the Easter break I joined Paddy and David to take a look inside and photograph the PK beehives. Having never done any bee keeping before, it was amazing to be able to get up close to the colonies and see the way they live, and the amazing comb structures that they build. While watching the bees come in and out of the hives with pollen, you can really see how amazingly methodical and social they are and how they interact with each other.
How you can help bees
Rural areas often don’t have as many flowers as cities, so have less diversity in bee species. Use of pesticides and habitat loss from large scale agriculture in rural places has also taken its toll on bee populations. There are ways you can help combat this, even if it’s just in your own garden. You can encourage bees by planting bee- friendly plants, these include foxgloves, honeysuckle, lavender, dahlias, bluebells, crab apple trees, snapdragon, and many more! Other ways to promote pollinator diversity is by buying or making wildflower seed bombs, which can help to revitalise areas with very little wildlife, giving the seeds of wildflowers a substrate to cling to and grow from. (Instructions on how to make them can be found here https://www.gonewest.com/blogs/news/our-weapon-of-choice-the-seed-bomb).
Hopefully after reading this blog, you can get stuck in and help protect all the resident species of bee, so they can keep doing what they do best!
Header Photo: Maeve Cushla