Fictional 'pink bees' but real help for colonies
Happy April Fool's Day - and how to help bees
Thank you for your comments about our 'pink bees' and we hope you all enjoyed our story on Friday 1 April 2014. While we're sure that many of you sussed the April Fool, a handful of people did believe our story (you can read the full article below).
While some of the informaton in our seasonal tail was indeed true: there is a varroa mite that is responsible for decimating honey bee colonies throughout the world but, sadly, European honey bees have little natural resistence. The bee population is also threatened by other diseases including fungal and viral infections.
Unfortunately, much as we would like to, we are unable to provide a quick fix with our fictional 'pink bee' population. However, at Farnley Estates, we are doing what we can to encourage and provide the right environment for bees and other insects to flourish.
Between 2002 and 2006 Natural England, DEFRA, Syngenta and Unilever, supported the Buzz Project, which wanted to discover the best type of vegetation for attracting bees. It discovered that planting pollen and nectar mix, was around eight times more effective at attracting bees than land left 'natural'.
Over the past few years, the Estate has included nectar and pollen mix as part of its agricultural programme and, in the words of Estate Manager, Paul Elgar there was 'a satisfying buzz' throughout the growing season last year. Farnley Estates is also the home of the Huddersfield and District Bee Keeping Society.
If you have a garden - or even a window box - you can do your bit for bees and other pollinators. The Royal Horticultural Society has a list of plants that are 'perfect for pollinators'.
1 April 2016: First sight of Farnley's Pink Bees
Farnley Estates has released the first pictures of their new 'pink bees'. A native of Southeast Asia, the Apis roseus bee is known to have a natural resistance to the Varroa mite, which has had a devastating effect on both wild and apiary-bred colonies in this country. Similar in behaviour to the UK's honey bee, the species is more commonly known as 'pink bees' due to their unusual pinky-red colouring.
"The UK honey bee population is facing a number of threats and we lost one hive this winter. We chose to introduce pink bees for several reasons. They are closely related to the European honey bee and have been successfully introduced into North America, with no adverse effect to the native bee population," says Paul Elgar, Estate Manager.
In fact, a recent study in Minnesota, showed that locations where pink bees have been introduced have seen a significant reduction in the number of hives affected by the Varroa mite and an increase in native bee populations. It's hoped that the pink bees will have a similar beneficial effect in Farnley.
Although the theory has yet to be proven, scientists believe that pink bees get their colouring from the nectar of cosmos flowers, their preferred food. The cosmos plant is known to be toxic to the Varroa mite.
The pink bees were introduced in February to give them time to acclimatise before the colony starts breeding between April and July.