The unfortunate downside to the change in agricultural techniques over the last few decades have led to a dramatic decrease in the number of bees in the UK, resulting a smaller population and unfortunately even less different species. It is sad to say that in the UK, Cullem’s bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus), was last recorded in 1941 and The Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) was last recorded in just 1988. A number of other species are on the brink of extinction, which causes many knock on effects for the British countryside, agriculture and wildlife.
Why are bees in decline in the UK?
There are many reasons that the humble bee is in decline, some of which are; Varroa mites, Diseases, Neglect from beekeepers, Pesticides, Lack of forage, Lack of nest sites and an increase in toxic materials in the ground and air, one of which being petrochemical paints and solvents.
Why are bees so important in the UK?
Bees are incredible pollinators which we need for our farming to survive. Bees and other insects are estimated to contribute £400 million per annum to the UK economy and €14.2 billion per annum to the EU economy. Through pollination, bees and insects are integral for plants and crops such as peas, tomatoes, apples and strawberries. Without bees we would have very little to pollinate wildflowers, which are often a fundamental part of an extremely complex food chain.
What can we do about helping the bees and insects we need?
Push agriculture to use methods that benefit bumblebees, and raise awareness about what the consequences are for a decline in the bee population. Engage in monitoring and survey schemes, and donate a bit of time to help out. Other ways you can help are to become a beekeeper yourself!
What can humble 'ol me do about it?
If you have any space at all in your garden, throw a handful of wildflower seeds and send some to your neighbours, the more of you that get involved the better, and everyone can spare just a few metres to let some beautiful wildflowers grow for part of the year. It's easy to grow plants that bees like. Providing nest sites for solitary bees can be a great help, bamboo canes, hollow stems, cardboard nest tubes etc can all help.
What about if I need an exterior varnish that is safe for bees?
If you are planning to be painting and varnishing exterior surfaces, The Organic & Natural Paint Co now offer a Natural Auro Wood Stain (Auro 160) that has been certified 'Safe for bees' by the Natural Beekeepers trust, so the next time you are using wood stain in your garden, furniture, etc, there is a totally natural and eco friendly wood stain that you can use without fear of harming the environment. Safe Beehive Paint can be found in this article too.
Where can I read more about it?
We are often asked what's the best natural finish for a bee hive? Well, we all know that Beekeeping is an outside endeavour, so you need to choose a natural finish that is both weather resistant, and more importantly , safe for the bees. We know that bees are incredibly sensitive to their environments, so we have a solution for you. The best natural finish for a bee hive is Auro 160, which has actually been CERTIFIED BY THE BEE KEEPERS TRUST. It’s imperative to protect the beehive from the deteriorating elements - elements like rain, in the gloom of night, storm, and extreme weather conditions - all these can take its toll on your beehive colony.
While many opt to go for semi-gloss paints because it is easier to keep clean than matte finish. As for the color, it all depends on the beekeepers, its up to you which colors you like. However, you must shun away from really dark colors because it heats up more that the light ones. These dark hives are okay during winter, but can rapidly overheat the colony during dog days. Some beekeepers also go for natural paint rather than the traditional because of its harmful effects to our health as well as to the environment.
It is just sad that studies have shown a dramatic decrease in the number of bees not just in the UK, but all over the world, and one of the reasons is the synthetic paint and finishes used. Fortunately, there are trusted brands that is out in the market, one of the leading brand is AURO and it is certified safe for bes by the natural beekeepers. They have a wide range of products, from natural paint to varnish, all are warranted safe, non toxic, breathable, and eco friendly. Specifically Auro 160 has been tested safe for bees.
It is to be expected that your hives undergo a huge deal of stress over time - honey harvesting, opening and closing the hives, moving, swapping hive bodies, extreme weather conditions, and so forth - so your goal should be building strong assemblies that will stand the test of time as well as creating a natural and non toxic surroundings for our precious bees!