British Beekeepers Association

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British Beekeepers Association

Honey Bee Habitats

Different types of bees have different habitats. All children know that Pooh Bear likes honey and are happy to recall the story in which he tried to reach a bee's nest in the top of a tree.

A tree is the natural nest site for the European honey bee. A hollow tree provides a dry, dark, cavity with wood roof on which the bees can fix their combs. Protected from rain and wind and some insulation, although honey bees have such a good air conditioning system this need only be minimal.

A small entrance helps the bees that guard the entrance against wasps and alien honey bees that might want to steal the honey. As A.A. Milne suggests bears can be a problem, but not in the UK!

Honey bees also need a supply of water in the spring for diluting honey stores and in the summer for cooling the nest. The beekeeper provides an artificial habitat in which he tries to meet these criteria. However, he also imposes restrictions, which help him to look after the bees and take some honey without harming the bees.

All bees will thrive in areas where there is good forage throughout their active season so the presence of a range of nectar producing flowers within a radius of about two to three km (1 - 1.5 miles).

Farmers and gardeners are providing artificial habitats for some solitary bees to encourage them to nest near to their crops or even move them to the crops since they are such good pollinators. This manipulation of habitat is where science and technology meet to benefit both the human and the natural world. Such nesting boxes would be an interesting addition to a school nature garden. Extract from article by S.Chamberlin in Primary Science and Technology Review Spring 2002