I can’t believe how interest in honeybees just keeps growing and growing.
Today I met up with an aspiring playwright who by chance bought the eye-catching paperback at the airport and is now penning a drama based around colony collapse disorder. Before she arrived for lunch, I read an article in the Independent on Sunday about the craze in beekeeping. For all you people who never thought wearing a beesuit remotely sexy, Scarlett Johansson, who apparently received a beehive as wedding present from Samuel L Jackson, may just change your mind.
How long before the WI bring out a honeybee calendar? I’ve just read a three-page spread in the July/August edition of the Women’s Institute magazine, WI Life, about the perilous predicament of British bees. This follows the 300,000-strong member organisation passing a resolution at this year’s AGM to save honeybees with a wealth of information on its website about just how to do this. The feature itself is not yet downloadable, but Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) is reported as saying that “pesticide-specific bee deaths in Britain have become practically nil, due to increased awareness and restrictions”. He chose his words carefully because the truth is the pesticides could well be playing a role in bee deaths in the UK, and the BBKA receives money from one of the main manufacturers of pesticides that have been implicated in bee deaths worldwide. It endorses some of Bayer Crop Sciences products as “bee-friendly despite many of its members campaigning against the link-up.
The article has reminded me to check what’s happened to the £150,000 donated by the Co-op - as part of its Plan Bee campaign - aside from giving a small amount to map our native black honeybees. And where has Rowse Honey’s £100,000 for bee research gone? Both companies are deeply concerned about pesticide use, but I understand not much research is being done in this area, other than by the chemical companies themselves.
An influential committee of MPs this week said the government must fund more research into the “alarming decline” of honeybees.The call follows the setting up of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Honeybees, which is a group of MPs across the political divide (led by beekeeping MP John Penrose) who are going to monitor pollinator research in the UK and make sure the honeybee is getting her fair share, which should be most of that £10m pledged earlier this year by Defra, the government’s environment department, and other research funding partners.
Finally, the most fun you can have with bees without any chance of getting stung must be tweehive – a new bee forum on Twitter. It’s described as “a Twitter-based mass role play experiment in which you tweet as a bee and can follow the threads [immediate responses] as they come in.”
For Twitter virgins like myself, the official launch on Tuesday to which I was invited and taught how to contribute to (tweet) by my patient tweacher, was a revelation. Suddenly I could put out information about the latest bee article to other tweeters, on the tweehive thread - or correct something they had tweeted - just by adding #tweehive to the end of my tweets.
My tweacher was pretending to be a drone writing love poetry to the queen, while other tweeters were busy worker bees, cleaning, fanning and foraging. His literary aspirations were not in vain because tweehive was conceived as part of Pestival – an arts festival at the South Bank Centre 4-6 September in celebration of insects - where the Queen Elizabeth Hall is being transformed into Queen Bee Hall. Sounds fab, see you there…