Five bee-lovers tell us why they are so passionate about these fascinating insects
Brigit Strawbridge, author and campaigner
“Bees are extraordinary creatures. The more I watch them the more I fall in love with them. I am enchanted and fascinated by their diversity – from the tiny little furrow bees (no bigger than a grain of rice) that nest in old stone walls, to the enormous queen bumblebees that herald the arrival of spring – but my favourite of all is the male hairy-footed flower bee.
“Why? Because of his distinctive high-pitched buzz, his territorial behaviour as he patrols the lungwort in search of females, and the fact that he strokes the female’s antennae whilst they mate. This bee has captured my heart more than any other.”
Freddie Yauner, artist
“I’m an artist who found a love for bees through an interest in pollen. As bees collect pollen they fertilise 30 per cent of the world’s food – but pesticides are killing our pollinators. Bees are beautifully engineered animals: they cover themselves in pollen, then somehow clean themselves up and use their hind legs to compress their bounty into pollen granules to carry back to the hive.
“Pollen granules have delicate and unpredictable colours, I use them as pigment to make paint. Thanks bees – sorry for taking some of your pollen – hopefully the works I make will help your plight.”
Paul Sergeant, online community manager at Ecotricity
“I’ve always had a passing interest in bees, but in the past couple of years I’ve really started to pay attention. There are way more types of bees around than most people think, and I can’t imagine how I missed them all now.
“Whenever the weather permits, I do ‘lunchtime safaris’ around Ecotricity’s wildflower area and over the road in the green space managed by Stroud Town Council. I especially love it when I offer my finger to a bee on a flower and they climb aboard and pose for a photoshoot (I’ve not been stung yet!).”
Lucy England, avid gardener and nature lover
“I have always loved bees. They are the sound of summer, their hum lifting my spirits and folding time to transport me back to a dishevelled 1960s London orchard – the kingdom of the bees. Ironic that the sound of their toil relaxes me like no other sound, somehow speaking straight to the amygdala.
“For me bees are the grafting flower fairies of the garden, visiting each flower, giving it an inadvertent blessing of pollen while taking a share for themselves in perfect symbiosis. Mainly though, I just love bees because they are. I just want to watch them and grow flowers for them and pray that we leave them alone.”
Nick Packham, Urban Buzz officer, Buglife
“Bees give us so much, without asking for anything in return, only that we help provide plants for them to feed on. So varied, some with hairy feet, some with buff tails, others with red tails, some really furry, others with little fur, some live in the ground others live in walls, while others live in roof cavities.
“They’re so vulnerable: you see them dozing or sleeping on pavements or lawns where they are bloated or too cold to fly. With more than 250 bee species it’s a great example of the beauty of nature. Bees play a pivotal role in biodiversity and without them the countryside, and our supermarkets will soon become bland places with less variety and colour.”