16th August 2019
Saturday 17 August marks World Honey Bee Day, so we’re celebrating these small but mighty creatures and the important role they play in our ecosystem.
Bees are important for more than honey. Pollination by bees allows for a diverse range of crops and wild plants to be cultivated. Some of these plants, such as clover and alfalfa, are also used to feed livestock for meat production. In turn, this provides us with a varied and nutritious diet, essential in preventing diseases relating to vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Aside from nutrition, bees also play a huge role in the economy. In the UK, crops pollinated by bees are worth around £691m per year. To employ people to pollinate these crops would cost the UK more than £1.8bn, a service currently provided by the bees for free.
Pollination by bees doesn’t just affect humans though; more than 80% of European wildflowers, including foxgloves and vetches, rely on pollination provided predominantly by bees. This allows the plants to produce fruit and seed, thereby increasing the availability of food and shelter for other wildlife living in the British countryside.
Since the 1930s, more than 97% of flowering grassland has been lost in the UK, an area equivalent to one and a half times the size of Wales.
In the UK there are over 270 different species of bee, however there is only one species of honeybee. Many of these bee species are under threat. In a recent report by the World Wildlife Fund, it was found that 31 species of bees were of conservation concern, 25 species were threatened and a massive 17 species had become regionally extinct.
On our farm in North Yorkshire, we place great value on our ecosystem and the creatures which inhabit it. 4 acres of our land are sown with a mixture of native wild flower species, providing vital food for not only the bees, but birds, butterflies and a variety of other insects as well.
The wide variety of habitat management on the farm greatly improves the biodiversity of the area, the results of which can be seen from the thriving wildlife in and around the farm.