The other week I gave beekeeping a go. In the urban heart of Plymouth, high up on the roof of a multistory building, a group of people in white suits gathered around a small box, from which small buzzing insects came and went. Beesuits are strange things, once inside the beesuit, you become a sort of spaceman, surrounded by hundreds of buzzing bees. With the beesuit you are able to explore the exciting world of the hive. There are bees flying around in all directions, each performing different errands.
The group and I were there to check on the health of the bees living in the hive. Whilst we were there we made sure the hive was clean and also removed spiders called false widows which prey on the bees. Essentially the job of the beekeeper is is to keep an eye on the bees and make sure that they are healthy. This may seem simple but it seems to be very complex, and can take years to become an expert at keeping bees.
What has always amazed me about bees is how organised they are, and how for such small creatures they are able to communicate complex information. They do this by releasing chemicals into the air called pheromones or doing a wiggly dance to show other members of the colony where honey is.
Bees are incredibly important pollinators of wildflowers and many of the crops we eat. Across the Active Neighbourhoods sites we have been trying to help bees out by planting wildflower meadows to provide food for them. This has been part of a national initiative called urban buzz: which aims to create wildflower meadows around UK cities. These can be seen all around the Plymouth on green verges, in parks and even on roundabouts.
Next time your out and about have a look and see if you can see any!