World Bee Day – Buzzing About Bees and Pollinators
When is World Bee Day?
An awareness day for bees and their role in pollination, World Bee Day is held on the 20th May each year. It’s a great opportunity to learn about how we can help these important insects.
The fluffy busy bumblebee is one of the first animals many young children recognise. Having a positive connection to these little insects is vital for their conservation. Getting to know the wonderful world of bees is a perfect way to help children understand where their food comes from and how important pollinator biodiversity is for our planet.
We love bees and pollinators here at Babipur and have some great resources here to help you create a bee friendly space at home and learn about these fascinating insects.
There are 276 different species of bee in the UK. These range from the well known honey bee, 24 species of bumblebee, and well over 200 species of solitary bee. They all play an important role in pollination of our crops and wild flowers. Flying from flower to flower, they are responsible for pollinating 3/4 of our crops globally, and 80% of wild flowers. By increasing our bee and pollinator density and diversity, crop yields can be increased by a massive 35%. This would give greater food security, particularly in developing countries.
There are over 20,000 species of bee worldwide, with some bee species only pollinating a single species of flower. When one bee species becomes extinct it has a knock on effect throughout the ecosystem.
The Vanilla bean grows from an orchid flower from Mexico and is nearly exclusively pollinated by a single species of bee, the Melipona bee. This little bee is facing extinction, risking the extinction of the Vanilla orchid in the wild, and the labour intensive hand pollination of the vanilla crops that produce one of our favourite natural flavourings. By learning about bees and pollinators with our children we can raise awareness and protect these special little insects.
World Bee Day
World Bee Day is marked by the United Nations on the 20 May each year. This date was chosen as it coincides with the birthday of Anton Janša, who pioneered modern beekeeping in the 18th Century and who recognised their importance in pollination and hard working nature.
We are facing an unprecedented decline in bee and pollinator numbers. Thanks to the use of pesticides and herbicides in modern farming techniques, habitat loss and climate change – but we can help reverse this trend. From supporting organic growers to encouraging our councils to delay verge cutting and growing more wild flowers, there is something we can all do.
Learning about bees
There are lots of ways to introduce children to the wonderful world of bees, and bring a close connection to these fascinating animals. Here’s some of our favourite books and toys to help develop a love of bees:
Omar, The Bees And Me
An uplifting story about sustainability, Omar, the Bees and Me encourages children to look after nature in their local communities. Omar is a new boy at school from Syria, who develops a friendship with Maisie, bound by their grandparents joy in beekeeping. Illustrated by Katie Cottle, each page is filled with colour as wildflowers are grown throughout the town. We love the honey cake recipe at the back!
Bajo The Hive
The Hive by Bajo is a great educational toy for learning about the structure of a beehive and the importance of bees as pollinators. Introduce children to the key players in this fascinating family, with each member of the hive having a very specific role to play. There are yellow blocks to represent the cells that hold honey, worker bees on natural beech wood, eggs, larvae, drones (male bees) and the queen on a red hexagon. Children will love exploring the different actions within the hive, learning about beekeeping and the importance of protecting our precious pollinators.
Plan Toys Beehives
The Plan Toys Beehive game is made up of 6 colourful stripy bees with friendly faces and little felt wings and their corresponding hexagonal hive. Children will love using finger and thumb or the forceps to grab the bee and put it into the corresponding colour hive. It’s a great way to learn colours and encourage turn-taking when playing with a friend, and a wonderful educational toy for early years learning.
Babipur B is for Buzzz Activity Book
This is a fun Bee story and activity book, written and created by us here at Babipur. B is For Buzzz is a lovely way to teach children about the importance of pollinators and why we want to encourage them back into our gardens! All of the story pages feature short sentences, perfect for younger children learning to read. After the story there are 12 activity pages for children and adults to enjoy. From colouring, doodling, and finger painting and dot to dots. Perfect for keeping your little buzzy bees happy.
Lily & Mel
This fab craft kit will encourage and educate your children to interact with the beauty of nature through play. This large 3D wooden DIY honey bee and candle making kit has everything you and your little ones need to build a wonderfully realistic honey bee, and learn about the anatomy, where they make honey and how they store pollen. Included is three beeswax sheets and wick to make your own beautifully scented beeswax candles.
Making a bee friendly garden
A wild garden is a pollinator friendly garden
Try and keep an area in the garden wild. Don’t feel guilty letting those weeds grow, you are doing our pollinators a vital service by providing natural flower food sources and cover.
Try your hand at growing herbs! Some of our favourite culinary herbs are also a top source of nectar for bees. Rosemary is great for its flowers in early spring, and try growing thyme, chives, mint, marjoram, sage, fennel and lavender. These are all herbs loved by bees and other insects, and great for cooking with too.
This doesn’t have to be an elaborate water feature – a shallow dish with some pebbles and sticks for bees to safely land on will suffice. Honey bees need to drink, and will use the water to cool the hive in hot weather and make crystallised honey useable. It’s been estimated that a hive of bees will take in a gallon of water a day in hot weather!
Fill your garden with pollinator friendly flowers
One of the easiest (and most fun) way of doing this is with Seedboms. We have created our own special Babipur x Kabloom Seedbom filled with wildflowers to bring colour and life back to your garden. Children love soaking these Kabloom seed grenades and dropping them onto a bare patch of soil. If you have a balcony then these are great for growing in pots too, and will quickly grow and produce flowers for the bees. Try growing different plants that flower from very early spring to the end of autumn so there is always something for pollinators to feed on.
Make a bumble bee house
Many of our bumblebees build their nests in the ground. In early spring you will often see large queen bumblebees zig-zagging across the ground looking for a suitable nesting site. You can make a nesting site in a sheltered quiet corner under a shrub or hedge using a half buried terracotta pot. Fill the pot with straw or pet bedding and set at an angle so it doesn’t become waterlogged.
Solitary bee hotel
These are a fun little project for the children and have a good success rate at attracting solitary bees. You’ll need a plastic tube – this can be a short length of pipe or guttering, a milk carton or drinks bottle with both ends cut off – and some bamboo canes or hollow stems.
Make sure that your cane or stem is hollow all the way through. Sand each tube smooth to protect the bees from splintery edges. Seal one end with clay or mud and pop a cardboard disk at the end to seal it off from predators.
Hang it up in a sunny and sheltered position where it won’t get too wet. Bees will fill each stem with eggs and pollen, and the young bees will emerge in spring. If you can, overwinter your bee tubes in a shed or greenhouse to protect them from the worst of the weather.
We hope that these ideas inspire you to encourage bees and pollinators into your garden, balcony or window box. Children will love watching their busy antics and it will provide so many great learning opportunities. By learning and valuing bees we will have a good chance of saving our amazing pollinators.
Share With Us!
We would love to see your World Bee Day ideas to help our bees and pollinators; share your pictures and thoughts with our community! Tag @Babipur on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Or share your pictures with the Babipur community in our Facebook group, Babipur Hangout!