Why is this project not about honey bees in hives?
I have been privileged to be in contact, and have conversations, with some of the country's top bee science and diversity experts over the last few years. Through this association, I have learned that the information most of us have access to, often via the media or campaigns, is far away from being a complete picture when it comes to the world of bees.
When we talk about bees in the public arena, we often imagine the hives and honey of the well known honey bee (Apis mellifera); but they are just one species, a tiny percentage of the precious pollinator diversity that exists in the UK.
Science educator and researchers have been very keen to get our other bee species recognised, so they can be looked after by us all. There have even been social media pages set up specifically to create a link between the science and us, the public. Like this one which is run by those behind the science and research: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1590641777855221/
We as carers of the countryside, towns and cities, need to help redress the balance if we can, by making every effort to tell our friends and neighbours about these forgotten pollinators - the rarely acknowledged wild bees that live all around us.
There are a whopping 260+ species of other bees and, importantly, they and other wild pollinators like hover flies, do most of the pollinating work that creates the plant diversity we see around us. So why not let them move into the limelight a little to occupy a bit of space under the huge spotlight for bees? Let's learn about them, celebrate them, and keep them safe! Find out about them here: http://www.bwars.com/
If this is so, then why do we almost always hear about honey bees, and not much about solitary bees?
We are not sure, it could be a combination of factors from the visual impact of a bee hive motif which is very media friendly (but reinforces the idea that honey bees are the only species), or the differences in levels of funding into research behind the two different bee groups (i.e wild bees or honey bees). But is it likely that the information level needed to talk about other bees is simply not readily available in the public arena. A self perpetuating topic perhaps? This is why a project like this is much needed.
Even with honey bees around it is the wild bees and other pollinators like hover flies that do most of the pollinating of not only wild spaces, gardens and parks, but of agricultural areas too.
There is a very interesting blog post that compares the honey bees' main work to the wild bees and what they are important for. Both do great work, but in rather different ways indeed. It's a very interesting read from Jeff Ollerton, who is a professor who teaches and researches biodiversity, and specialises in pollination science at the University of Northampton. The last paragraph in this blog post, in particular, highlights the feeling of many people in the world of conservation. The Secret Garden Salisbury is about encouraging conservation and this is why our Bee City project now exists.
Please note - This is not a campaign against honey bees by any means, but a campaign to promote education about our naturally occurring and most vital pollinators, and the green spaces where they live. The notes on this page are a response to the many requests to explain the ideas behind this project, and the definite focus on wild species. It seems that people really do want to learn about other bees, so we hope this goes some way to balancing the picture.