I saved a life the other day.
I was pretty proud of myself as I had risked getting hurt in the process.
When I told Hubby how I had saved a life and his response was; “do tell’.
Clearly, I hadn’t been featured on the news as a hero and Hubby (I could tell by the tone of his voice) was expecting something ridiculous.
LIVES WORTH SAVING
So I explained how I had rescued a bee from drowning in the pool, at risk of being stung.
That silly creature did not even realise it couldn’t swim so dive bombed into the pool like it was the most natural thing for a bee to do.
Bees are funny that way. They can’t fly (aerodynamically it is considered impossible) and yet they do.
Of course, once wet, my little guy couldn’t get out again though it tried to attach itself to the side of the pool and climb out.
I couldn’t bear the thought of watching it struggle until its strength was gone so I found a leaf and used it to lift the tiny creature out of the water to the safety of the ground.
By this stage, Hubby was not even trying to disguise his eye rolling. But a life is a life, isn’t it?
What makes saving the life of a bee so insignificant?
BEES ARE THE GUARDIANS OF THE FOOD CHAIN
After all, they pollinate about a third of everything we eat and sustain the planet’s ecosystems.
Around 84 percent of our crops – about 400 different plants – rely on bees. Even the crops we grow for dairy cows and other livestock need bees.
The seeds, fruit and berries eaten by birds and small mammals need bees.
These amazing little insects are the hardest working creatures on the planet and are often considered the guardians of the food chain.
Mankind’s survival is quite dependant on the humble bee.
Ancient Egyptians knew this and transported their hives along the Nile to pollinate their crops.
Aside from the crops, honey bees are responsible for giving us honey and, while delicious, it’s the antiseptic and antibacterial properties that make honey extra important.
Ancient civilisations, as well as some underdeveloped countries today, use honey to treat all kinds of symptoms. It was found especially useful for treating burns and infections.
WHY BEES CAN’T FLY
Well, of course, they do, so they can. But for around 80 years scientists were baffled because it appeared aerodynamically impossible that the little creatures could fly.
The early calculations were based on the surface area of the bee’s wings and its weight. It did not take into account the moving wings and these are at the heart of why bees can actually fly.
By frantic wing flapping (around 250 beats per second), they fly using mini hurricanes. Their wings create pockets of low air pressure which produces small eddies above their wings, which lift them into the air.
If all this wasn’t stand out enough, consider that most of nature works on the predator/prey process to obtain food.
Bees do no harm while producing so much for the planet. The nectar they drink from flowers does not harm the flower and, in fact, ensures the flower can reproduce.
The bee flies into a flower to drink and gets covered in pollen from the flower’s stamen (male part). Then the bee flies to the next flower to drink and deposits the pollen into the stigma (female part) of the flower.
There are around 25,000 species of bees in the world. Honey bees, as the name would suggest, produce honey. They are also pollinators.
Bumble bees are often superior pollinators due to their body shape and how the pollen sticks to them.
There are a lot of species that are solitary bees – they do not live in groups.
The ones that do live in groups have a harmonious and very efficient system.
Honey bees can share the hive with up to 60,000 others but their sophisticated, highly organised society means they live in harmony.
HOW BEES WORK TOGETHER
Different bees have different responsibilities – often determined by their age. For instance, honey bees will be the cell cleaners for the first few days of their lives. They then get promoted to feeders of the older, and then younger, larvae.
At around 12 -17 days old they are responsible for producing wax, building combs and carrying food.
At 18-21 days old they became bee hive guards and then get promoted to pollinators around 22 days old which will remain their job until they die.
How long they live depends on the type of bee (honey bee, bumble bee, solitary bee) and their role within the colony if they live in a group.
THE PLIGHT OF THE BEES
Honey bee queens can live up to four years whereas bumble bee queens live around a year.
Honey bee workers can live up to seven weeks but for the bumblebee worker, the average is about two weeks.
That’s assuming, of course, that they are not wiped out by intensive farming, use of insecticides and climate change.
One-third of all honey bee colonies in the US were wiped out by colony collapse disorder in 2007. Around 40 percent of colonies are still dying each year.
According to latest predictions, one out of 10 European wild bee species are facing extinction as are around one-quarter of the world’s 250 bumble bee species.
Tasmanian beekeepers are facing major losses due to the devastating fires that destroyed more than 100,000 hectares last summer.
I’m not sure what kind of bee my little guy was but I checked out the description and pictures of our native bees at aussiebee.com and I think it might have been a Teddy Bear Bee because of its colouring and chubby body (isn’t that a cute name?).
I told the four-year-old Goddess that I pulled a bee out of the pool and she said;
“Wow Grandy, you saved a life. Well done”. She gets it.
Check out One Green Planet for more information on why bees are so important.
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.