As I write this, I’m watching all sorts of bees flitting from flower to flower, and I remember wondering back in the cold winter how they would all fare. Happily, the British Beekeepers’ Association says that 87% of honey bee colonies survived in the south-west. It’s not just the cold that’s the problem, there’s disease and poor nutrition because of habitat loss as well. The Association estimates that there are some 48 billion honey bees in the country; given that this is only one of over 250 bee species in the UK, it’s no wonder, perhaps, there are so many going about their vital business of pollination. We can all help here by growing bee friendly plants.
There are a lot of poems and songs about bees. For example, in 1962 Sylvia Plath wrote 5 poems about bees and bee-keeping in less than a week. But this is an Emily Dickinson poem from 19th century America: The Bee
Like trains of cars on tracks of plush I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes, their velvet masonry
Withstands until the sweet assault their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away to vanquish other blooms.
His feet are shod with gauze, his helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx with chrysoprase, inlaid.
His labour is a chant, his idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience of clovers and of noon!