Let’s celebrate World Bee Day!

Did you know Saturday 20th May is World Bee Day? The aim is to raise awareness about the essential role bees play in our ecosystems, agriculture and food production. It’s about promoting the conservation and protection of bees and thinking about what we can all do to help.

Here we share some fascinating and little-known facts about bees, plus the practical ways we can all help these important pollinators.

Are bees in trouble and why does it matter?

Bee numbers around the world are plummeting. This is due to a combination of factors including habitat loss, climate change, pesticide use, disease, pests and intensive agricultural practices.

The sharp decline in bee populations has far-reaching consequences for the environment, animals and people. They are one of the most effective pollinators in nature and they are responsible for pollinating a significant portion of the world’s crops. Without bees many fruits, nuts, vegetables and seeds we rely on for food cannot grow.

Bees also play an essential role in maintaining the diversity and health of ecosystems. They help pollinate wildflowers which provides food for animals. They contribute to soil health by transferring nutrients from flowers to the soil through their excrement.

To help your child understand the importance of bees, you could watch this short film from BBC Newsround.

Amazing bee facts for World Bee Day

Here are 10 fascinating, little-known facts about bees. Can your child find more facts on the internet and from library books? Perhaps they could make their own little book about bees to share at school?

Do bees die when they sting you?

It depends on the type of bee. Honeybees have barbed stingers, which can become embedded in our skin when they sting. If the honeybee can’t remove its stinger and tears its own abdomen, it will die.

Other types of bees like bumblebees and most species of solitary bees have smooth stingers which can be used repeatedly without causing the bee’s death.

Remember, bees only sting when they feel threatened. If you encounter a bee, it’s best to stay calm and move away slowly rather than swatting at it. Swatting at it can make it feel threatened and more likely to sting.

Can bees fly in the rain?

Yes, bees can fly in the rain, but they prefer not to because it stops them flying so well. They are incredibly resilient creatures.

Do bees fly fast?

Yes! Bumblebees and Yellow Jackets can fly up to 30mph – that’s as fast as most people cycle downhill. Other types of bees reach speeds of up to 25mph.

Do bees recognize individual human faces?

Incredibly, the answer is yes. Bees have the ability to recognize individual human faces, which is a remarkable feat for a tiny insect. Anyone tempted to swat a bee would do well to remember that!

Can bees dance?

They can! Bees dance as a way of communicating with each other. When a bee discovers a new source of food it will return to the hive and perform a ‘waggle dance’ to tell the other bees where food is located.

Can bees do maths?

Studies have shown that bees are brilliant mathematicians. They can solve maths problems relating to arithmetic and they understand symmetry, patterns, shapes and distances. They need this ability to navigate and communicate the location of food sources to each other.

Can bees get drunk?

Bees have been known to get drunk on fermented nectar, which can affect their ability to fly and navigate.

Do bees have a favourite colour?

Bees are attracted to blue and violet flowers more than any other colour. That’s because blue and violet flowers contain the most nectar.

Do bees have knees?

We’ve all heard the expression, “You’re the bee’s knees”. But do bees really have knees?

Bees don’t have knees like humans, but their legs are divided into segments that allow them to move and bend in a way that is similar to a knee.

Do bees have two eyes?

Bees actually have five eyes. Their visual system enables them to find food, communicate with each other and navigate with absolute precision.

How can you help bees?

There are a few things you can do at home to help bees:

  1. Plant bee-friendly flowers. Whether you have a garden or window boxes you can help the bees. Bee-friendly flowers include lavender, sunflowers, wildflowers, and herbs like thyme and rosemary.
  2. Provide a water source. Bees need water to keep themselves hydrated. Providing a shallow dish of water with some rocks or twigs for them to land on can help.
  3. Make a bee house. Making a bee house provides bees with a safe, sheltered place to lay their eggs and raise their young. There are lots of instructions available on the internet, but here’s a very easy guide.
  4. Avoid using pesticides that are harmful to bees and look for natural alternatives.
  5. Support your local beekeepers. Buying local honey is a great way to support bee populations. Farmers markets, farm shops and delicatessens often sell local honey. You can also buy it online.
  6. Support bee conservation societies. Bee conservation societies are actively engaged in research, education and outreach efforts to protect bees and other pollinators. Use the internet to find societies based on your area or consider supporting the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Did your child enjoy World Bee Day?

Does your child love science and nature? Whether they want to extend their interest or they need extra support, our experienced science tutors can help.

To find out more about one-to-one science tuition please email hello@tutormykids.co.uk