the secret life of bees

I am a bee keeper. 

Well, that’s an exaggeration, but I have little bees that visit my lavender pot each day, and sometimes I am fortunate enough to be able to watch them; buzzing around in their black and yellow striped glory, on their recon mission to seek & pollinate. 

my lavender

They’re not just any bees – they are the Amegilla or common native Australian Blue Banded Bee. 

my friendly neighbourhood bee

I’ve always had a fondness for bees, mostly because the origin of my name is Greek for Honey Bee. But as you learn about bees; their role in our ecosystem, their hive social structure, their daily missions, you start to understand the importance these little creatures have on Earth. 

I think bees often have a bad rep for being angry buzzards out to spoil our fun in the sun by zoning in on our feet and hands and stabbing us with their stingers. That’s really not the case (hornets or wasps maybe). The bee is usually just flying around trying to do its job – pollinate or collect for honey – and in the case of the Australian bees, they aren’t aggressive. Sure, they have stingers, but they die when they sting you so it’s not like it’s their mission to inflict discomfort to humans resulting in death for the bee. 

The Bee is from the scientific family Apoidea (a classification which includes wasps and bees). Australia has around 1500 species of bee. Depending where you live there are different bees native to that area. 

native bees by area - aussiebee.com.au

Over the past couple of decades the bee colony population has been on the decline. By 2006/07 it had gotten so bad that the term Colony Collapse Disorder was proposed to describe the sudden disappearance of bees from their hives. Scientists were baffled and research for the cause of this epidemic is still ongoing, but it’s commonly thought that the disappearance is due to a combination of factors that have compounded over time to cause the issue. Immunodeficiencies, fungus, pollution, pesticides and mites are the general consensus of the cause.There have been a few documentaries about this, the one I’ve seen is the Vanishing of the Bees which talks about pesticides as being the major cause, which in my opinion is a bit to conspiracy theorist, but it is informative. 

Because I’m a worrier (something I’m working on to curb) I actually stay awake a night worrying about environmental issues (amoung other things) but logically I know that the best way to deal with issues outside of my control is to be informed and do what I can on a local level; buy locally produced honey, make sure you declare everything when you come/go into a country (this is how continental cross contamination began), let bees do their thing when they’re buzzing around flowers & try not to step on them in the garden! The last thing we want is to end up like the Japanese, who have no bees left and actually hand pollinate their fruit orchards…

My little lavender bush is completely available as a one stop pollination shop for my little Amegillaian friends.

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