Whether you’ve spotted them or not you’ll undoubtedly be aware that bees (and other pollinators) are facing difficult times from a combination of habitat loss along with pressures from new diseases, garden and agricultural chemicals and climate change.
Helping bees and other pollinators
There’s quite a bit we can all do to help bees and pollinators; signing petitions and lobbying for their protection, planting a bee-friendly garden, even joining a local group like Bungay Community Bees. As it turns out – and we’re delighted about this – you can also eat more beans.
Beans are good for bees
Fava beans benefit bees by providing nectar and pollen at a time when they’re in short supply and colonies risk starvation. Flowering during what beekeepers call the ‘June gap’, they form a crucial bridge between spring-flowering plants and the floral abundance of summer. Though our beans are mostly self-pollinating, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that bees, especially bumblebees, play an important role in increasing yields and ensuring even pollination.
Certified as organic by the Soil Association, who are currently running a campaign to Keep Britain Buzzing, our organic beans are, we think, even better for bees because of the complete absence of herbicides and the severely restricted use of fungicides and insecticides on the farms where they’re grown.
I have a particular interest in bees and I’m a beekeeping member of Bungay Community Bees, a small bee group on the Norfolk/Suffolk border – the first to be established along Community Supported Agriculture lines – our aim is to raise awareness about the plight of bees, demonstrate and experiment with low-intervention approaches to beekeeping (often called natural beekeeping) and to give as many people as possible a chance to look into (often quite literally thanks to our large observation hive) the fascinating world of the honeybee.
In the five years since Bungay Community Bees formed we’ve set up a successful plant labelling scheme for our local garden centre, worked with Anglia Co-op to establish an education apiary, run numerous events (including the popular Bungay Beehive Day) and, of course, looked after our bees (this year we’re responsible for around 20 colonies).
Over the next few months I’ll share a few pictures of the Bungay bees – particularly when the beans are in flower.
Eat more beans to help the bees!
And, of course, we’ll all be encouraging you to eat more British beans!