Gisburn ladies help save the planet
PUBLISHED: 20:56 24 June 2010 | UPDATED: 13:10 01 June 2016
Kathleen Calvert and her colleagues in Gisburn Women's Institute are a hive<br/>of activity – raising awareness of the honeybee's plight
Close your eyes and picture a glorious summer afternoon. Blue sky, warm sunshine, the sound of birds singing and of bees humming as they gather pollen.
Life without these industrial creatures would be very different - some predict we would struggle to survive. At Gisburn WI, we aim to raise awareness of the serious decline in
the UK honeybee population. It is part of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes’ SOS for Honey Bees campaign aimed at reversing this worrying trend.
As part of the campaign, we visited the Gardenmakers nursery in Wigglesworth, where owners Andrew and Hilary Shaw displayed plants attractive to bees.
Andrew talked about plants for each season when bees stock up their larder ready for winter hibernation.
Bees love tubular flowers like foxglove and snapdragon, preferring single to double flowers. Areas set aside to grow wild must still be managed or they will become disorganised.
Beekeeping is rewarding, requiring patience, skill, determination and dedication. Good management is essential, problems with the weather and with control of pests and diseases are commonplace.
We have also visited Gisburn beekeeper Judith Driver who is a mine of information. She told us that honeybees needed a good supply of food to be able to carry out the vital task of pollination. They spend a lot of time feeding in the wonderful cottage garden near her hives.
Consecutive wet summers are disastrous for bees who need much warmer, drier weather and Judith is encouraging local farmers to find and manage suitable areas to sow wild flower seeds to increase the supply of pollen for honeybees to work their miracles. A garden, or even a window box, provides flowering plants on which honeybees can feed.
The importance of these creatures can be measured by the fact that a third of the human diet is directly dependent on bees. They also pollinate around 90 per cent of plants producing seeds and fruits for birds and wild animals.
Many colonies have been destroyed by disease with the population declining at the rate of 30 per cent a year. A recent book on the crisis claimed that in the world without bees, man would have four years to survive.