For most of my time I’ve been extremely uncomfortable around bees.  As a child, if I saw a bee as I was playing out with my mates I’d leg-it as fast and as far away as possible from the offending buzzer. It’s a phobia called ‘Melissophobia’ or the Latin name ‘Apiphobia’. 

In late teens or early 20’s, if I was sat outside the local pub enjoying a pint in the summertime and a bee came along, I’d get up & go sit inside. In my early thirties it was pretty much the same. I was hypnotised to try and overcome my bee problem. I didn’t work and so I was still nervous around bees for years until some very good friends of mine in Norfolk asked me to go and visit their bee hive!

I always thought highly of the apiarists (bee keepers) you see on the TV, with their special clothing & completely fearless of thousands of bees. Wouldn’t it be great to overcome my phobia and do something like that.  Here was an opprtunity I may never get again, so | took it & bit the bullet.

Later that evening feeling rather apprehensive, I drove over to Angela Lamberts farm. As I arrived they were already waiting for me. Van open with bee suits, boots & gloves all ready to put on. There was no getting out of it now! So I put all of the protective gear on and off to the hive s we went.

I have to say as soon as I heard all the buzzing my hackles and goose pimples were up like I don’t know what!! Slightly nervous I watched Andy Lambert open the hive from a metre away. Out came the bees but remarkably I felt very safe in my suit.

After a couple of minutes my phobia had completely gone. This opportunity gave me a chance to be around a a small swarm and study them without the fear of being stung.. I realised the bees weren’t at all interested in me. They just wanted to do their job. Like little robots given tasks they all went about their individual tasks. Some bees were venting the hive, some were constructing the hive and some were looking after the eggs.

A few minutes later I asked if I could lift out a section of the hive to look for the queen bee.

Me & the bees

Yes believe it or not that’s me!

As I lifted the middle hive section out, I was more concerned about damaging any of the bees than getting any stings myself. Again the bees weren’t interested on what I was doing; they just carried on doing their jobs, even on the section of hive I was holding.

After 10 minutes or so I was so calm I took off the protective bee vale. I was stood next to the hive no problem.

That is how my friends cured my Melissophobia!

Thanks Angela & Andy Lambert, it is something I will never forget!

Some Honey Bee Facts

Bee collecting pollen.

Bee collecting pollen. (image thanks to - Wiki)

  1. There are three kinds of bees in a hive: Queen, Worker and Drone.
  2. Only the Queen in the hive lays eggs. She communicates with her hive with her own special scent called pheromones. The queen will lay around 1,500 eggs per day.
  3. The worker bees are all female and they do all the work for the hive. Workers perform the following tasks inside the hive as a House Bee: Cleaning, feeding the baby bees, feeding and taking care of the queen, packing pollen and nectar into cells, capping cells, building and repairing honeycombs, fanning to cool the hive and guarding the hive.
  4. Workers perform the following tasks outside the hive as Field Bees: Gathering nectar and pollen from flowers, collecting water and a collecting a sticky substance called propolis.
  5. Bees have two stomachs - one stomach for eating and the other special stomach is for storing nectar collected from flowers or water so that they can carry it back to their hive.
  6. The male bees in the hive are called drones. Their job in the hive is to find a queen to mate with. Male bees fly out and meet in special drone congregation areas where they hope to meet a queen. Male drone bees don't have a stinger.
  7. If a worker bee uses her stinger, she will die.
  8. Bees are classified as insects and they have six legs.
  9. Bees have five eyes - two compound eyes and three tiny ocelli eyes.
  10. Bees go through four stages of development: Egg, Larvae, Pupae and Adult Bee.
  11. The bees use their honeycomb cells to raise their babies in, and to store nectar, honey, pollen and water.
  12. Nectar is a sweet watery substance that the bees gather. After they process the nectar in their stomach they regurgitate it into the honeycomb cells. Then they fan with their wings to remove excess moisture. The final result is honey.
  13. Bees are the only insect in the world that make food for humans.
  14. Honey has natural preservatives and bacteria can't grow in it.
  15. Honey was found in the tombs in Egypt and it was still edible! Bees have been here around 30 million years.
  16. A honeybee can fly 24 km in an hour at a speed of 15 mph. Its wings beat 200 times per second or 12,000 beats per minute.
  17. Bees have straw-like tongues called a proboscis so they can suck up liquids and also mandibles so they can chew.
  18. Bees carry pollen on their hind legs called a pollen basket. Pollen is a source of protein for the hive and is needed to feed to the baby bees to help them grow.
  19. A beehive in summer can have as many as 50,000 to 80,000 bees. A bee must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey. It requires 556 worker bees to gather a pound of honey. Bees fly more than once around the world to gather a pound of honey.
  20. The average worker bee makes about 1/12 th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  21. Bees have 2 pairs of wings. The wings have tiny teeth so they can lock together when the bee is flying. Bees communicate through chemical scents called pheromones and through special bee dances.
  22. Every 3rd mouthful of food is produced by bees pollinating crops. Flowering plants rely on bees for pollination so that they can produce fruit and seeds. Without bees pollinating these plants, there would not be very many fruits or vegetables to eat.
  23. A single beehive can make more than 100 pounds (45 kg) of extra honey. The beekeeper only harvests the extra honey made by the bees.
  24. The average life of a honey bee during the working season is about three to six weeks. There are five products that come from the hive: Honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis, and royal jelly.
  25. Beeswax is produced by the bees. Bees have special glands on their stomach that secrete the wax into little wax pockets on their stomach. The bee takes the wax and chews it with her mandibles and shapes it to make honeycomb.
  26. Propolis is a sticky substance that bees collect from the buds of trees. Bees use propolis to weatherproof their hive against drafts or in spots where rain might leak in.
  27. People have discovered the anti-bacterial properties of propolis for use in the medical field.
  28. Royal Jelly is a milky substance produced in a special gland in the worker bee's head. For her whole life the Queen is fed Royal Jelly by the workers.
  29. Although bears do like honey, they prefer to eat the bee larvae because they are a good source of protein.
  30. Honey comes in different colours and flavours. The flower where the nectar was gathered from determines the flavour and colour of the honey.

Bee facts thanks to Bee-MagicChronicles.

We need to make sure the bees have enough plants to pollinate. 

The value of bee pollination in human nutrition and food for wildlife is immense and difficult to quantify. 60 to 80% of the world’s flowering plant species are animal pollinated and 35% of crop production and 60% of crop plant species full citation needed depend on animal pollinators.

It is commonly said that about one third of human nutrition is due to bee pollination. This includes the majority of fruits, many vegetables (or their seed crop) and secondary effects from legumes such as alfalfa and clover fed to livestock.

Add some Meadowmat Wildflower Matting to a small section of your garden or an Enviromat Sedum Green Roof Kit on your shed roof, help the bees thrive and do their job.