Bees are booming thanks partly to a drop in pollution, but they still need our help if they are to help us keep eating well
A – Hello and welcome to WoW!, the positive podcast! Showing kids that there’s a lot more to the world news than bad news.
I’m Alastair. As a journalist, I’ve worked all over the world. Often I wrote about things going wrong. But people need to know too about what’s going right. That helps us see that there are things we can do to make the world a better place.
I’m here this week, with my podcast buddy Clarisse, to talk about something that’s giving us a buzz. That’s a really bad joke. Listen on and you’ll find out why!
I hope the podcast gives you some ideas too – and maybe a bit of a boost. If you like it, do share it with a friend!
A – Hello Clarisse! Happy Bee Day!
C – Hello Alastair! Bee Day? You mean Birth Day? It’s not my birthday!
A – No, Clarisse. Not birthday – Bee Day! This week, we’re celebrating World Bee Day. It’s on Wednesday, in fact. That’s what’s I meant by getting a buzz this week!
C – Oh! That’s a terrible joke!
A – Sorry!
C – Ah, and what exactly are we celebrating?
A – Well, Clarisse, World Bee Day is a fairly new thing, just a couple of years old. The idea is to make sure that people know how important bees are and to let them know that bees need our help. The idea came from Slovenia. You know where that is? In the Alps, just above Italy. Little country, big on bees. For its size, more people keep bees in Slovenia than anywhere else in Europe. And, actually, now I think of it World Bee Day is a kind of birthday – May 20 is the birthday of a Slovenian who lived a long time ago and who is a big deal in the beekeeping world.
C – OK. So are there going to be parties?
A – Well sadly Clarisse, no one’s really having parties at the moment for anything. But there is something we can celebrate on World Bee Day. The bees themselves are partying away while we’ve all been stuck indoors because of corona virus.
C – Really? The bees are happy that we’re not around?
A – Yes, it seems so. It’s something I realised myself last week when I spotted a little honey bee buzzing among the flowers on my balcony. Now normally in the city centre where I live, you don’t see many bees. But the last few days I’ve seen quite a few. Experts say that the bees are doing really well at the moment – and that has at least something to do with the fact that humans are staying at home, not making nearly so much pollution and noise and so on.
C – That’s great. So we can celebrate the bees doing really well!
A – Hm. Up to a point. The weather’s also been good for bees this year, so we can look forward to seeing more of them. I think we all like the sight of a busy little bee buzzing among the flowers. And people can check out our website – wow dash news dot eu – for some tips on how to tell a friendly bee from a nasty wasp or a hornet. But actually World Bee Day is also about telling people that the bees need our help. We’ve given them quite a few problems. And that’s not good for us either.
C – OK. So why should we care about bees? And how can we help them?
A – We care about bees, partly of course, because we should care about all life in the world. It’s all part of an amazing system that we should look after. But even if we want to be totally selfish, we need to look after bees. We know that when they go from flower to flower, gathering pollen and nectar to take back to their hive to feed their queen and so on, that they spread the pollen around. And that’s like spreading seeds for flowers and plants. Without it, they just wouldn’t grow. Well, what goes for flowers also goes for loads of other plants that we eat. So without bees we’d have problems growing fruit and vegetables, growing wheat to make bread and so on.
C – Gosh. And there’s a problem?
A – You bet. Bees have various problems. There are some diseases. The spread of cities and concrete means there are fewer flowers around for them. The chemicals that farmers and gardeners spray on plants to get rid of insects also hurt bees. And air pollution from all our cars and engines makes it hard for bees to find the flowers because it messes up their sense of smell.
C – Oh dear! So is there nothing that we can do to help?
A – Fortunately, yes, there is, Clarisse! That’s kind of what World Bee Day is all about. Everyone listening can do something to help the bees. If you go to our website – wow dash news dot eu – you can find links to all sorts of ideas.
C – Great! What are you going to do, Alastair?
A – Aha, well I’m ahead of you Clarisse. There’s a thing called the World Bee Count where scientists are asking people to take photographs of bees they see and to upload them online, explaining where they are. And they’re going to publish a map showing how many bees there are and where. Over time, it should help us understand what’s happening to the bees. And then of course, I’m eating honey.
C – Eating honey? How does that help the bees? Aren’t we stealing their honey?
A – Ah well, that’s always been one way of looking at it Clarisse. We do pinch the honey from the bees. But good beekeepers always make sure that the bees themselves have got plenty left over. And I always make sure I buy local honey from small beekeepers whom I know really take good care of their bees. Did you know that many of these beekeepers – who are also called “apiarists” – nothing to do with apes and monkeys! – will be happy to show school classes and families around and explain how bees live and make honey. Just check out who’s doing it in your area!
C – That sounds great, Alastair. While you were talking I just looked some things up on the Internet about World Bee Day and I see the one that I’m going to do!
A – That was quick! What are you going to do Clarisse?
C – Plant some flowers! I read that I can ask for flower seeds – and they’re free!
A – Ah, yes, Clarisse. That’s right. There are organisations which will send you a free packet of seeds to plant that will give you flowers which the honey bees really love. You can look for people doing that where you live.
C – I’ve already found one here in France. If I’m quick, maybe I get some flowers planted on Bee Day!
A – Well, you better hurry, Clarisse. It’s been great talking to you as ever. I’m buzzing…
C – Oh no, not that joke again! Goodbye Alastair!
A – Bye Clarisse. See you next week!
A – You lot out there, before you go, I thought we could to a quick bee quiz. Or a quizzzzz, if you like. Alright? Sitting comfortably? We’re going to very quick. I’ll give you just a few seconds for each answer. Here goes…
True or false? A bee can fly as fast as a car driving around town?
True! A bee can fly at up to 50 kilometres an hour – that’s about 30 miles an hour.
Ready for another?
Does a bee weigh more or less than a grain of rice? More? Or less? Grain of rice…
True. Quite a bit more in fact. A worker bee is about as heavy as five grains of rice.
Who came first on planet Earth – bees? Or dinosaurs ?
Come on, have to hurry you. The answer is bees. Amazing but true. Bees were around before the dinosaurs. And thankfully for us, long atfter them too.
OK. Another question.
How many bees does it take to make a kilogram of honey? Buzz buzz. What’s your answer? Six thousand! Yup. Six thousand bees for about two normal sized jars of honey.
OK, how are you doing ? Are you keeping up. Think of a bee. Ready to skip to another flower? Here we go!
True or false. People in Slovenia love painting their bee hives in crazy colours and patterns. Know anything about Slovenia? Well, it’s true. Slovenians are crazy about their bees and they love making their hives look beautiful!
Well done if you’re getting any of these questions right!
Last one of the main series.
Would you say that bees are a) lazy or b) sporty?
Think about it, think about it. Buzz buzz… Yeah, they’re sporty. They might bumble around but they do all day every day. Your average bee, little fellow, just the weight of five grains of rice, she can spend the day flying around an area the size of six thousand football pitches. Could you do that!
Ok. How have you done ? Feeling tired like a busy bee at the end of the day?
And how do they fly so fast? Well, every second they flap their wings how many times. Fifty, fifty or two hundred times a second. One second and oup, that was two hundred beats of a bee’s wings!
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m worn out with all that buzzing.
If you’ve enjoyed this WoW! News podcast, do tell your friends. You’ll find details of bee stuff and everything else at our website www.wow-news.eu. I’m Alastair and I’ll be back with Clarisse next week with more positive news specially for kids. Until then, stay safe and bee…. positive!