Speaker: Bill Kunin
Sunday 10 November 2013
Today’s fascinating talk was on bees: bumble, honey or the solitary sort. Does anyone not love bees, with their wiggle dance and their fluffiness and their all-for-the-good-of-(wo)mankind? But they’re suffering, be it from the spread of parasites, the diseases those carry, pesticide use, disappearing/changing habitats, or simply a hard winter like the last one. Wild bees are affected by domestic populations, and while we know they are essential, the data just don’t exist to understand their behaviour and value fully. More is known of honey bees and bumble bees, not least their vast monetary value in pollinating food crops, but still there are strange events like colony collapse and species extinctions – even the rather more positive spikes of growth in species!
I learned so much, I couldn’t possibly relate it all. We were told a little about other pollinators, other insects that don’t pollinate, and the reciprocal relationship between plants and pollinators; how plants manipulate insects to ensure pollination, and how insects sometimes get around this. My favourite fact was why you get those absolutely enormous bees bumping against the windows in early spring: they’re queen bumble bees, looking for a nice new home in which to lay eggs for their first batch of workers of the year. So next spring, make sure to bow to her majesty.