What better, safer way to teach children about bees?

I had a really interesting and enjoyable day recently, when beside meeting some lovely people, I was manning a stall displaying my nest boxes containing red mason bee larvae, at the Royal Entomological Society Insect Festival, York, early this month. A family of four stopped at my stall. The father, a  30+ year old with his wife and two children started to look at the bee larvae through the windows and asked what they were. I explained that bee larvae were inside the nest box and next year they would be adult bees. “I bet you don’t get a lot of honey out of that small box do you?” he said. “These bees don’t make honey,” I replied and then explained that not all bees make honey! To emphasise this I asked his young lad, “Do you like strawberries? Do you like Ribena? Do you like apples and pears?” He said he loved them all. “Strawberries? Ribena? What have they got to do with bees?” asked his dad. “These bees pollinate strawberries and the blackcurrants that Ribena is made from.”  He then said, “Pollinate? What does that mean?” I explained what pollination was and a little about the life of solitary bees. When I told him these bees were red mason bees, he was amazed that I encouraged them to my garden. “Are they the ones that live in walls?”  and then continued to tell me that as a builder, he and his builder mates killed them whenever they saw them on jobs because they ruined the mortar in the walls. I convinced him otherwise! “You need to tell my mates this” he said. He openly admitted he did not know about bees and pollination. He honestly thought that bees made honey and that was it.  “Well I never knew that. You learn something new everyday don’t you?” he said as he left. He and his family may have learnt something new. For me this was a reminder. Sometimes I take things for granted and think, wrongly,  that everyone knows about bees and the value of bees. Obviously they don’t. What better, safer way to teach adults about bees!

I explain to the children scientists have found and recorded at least 243 different solitary bees in the British Isles. Using the nest box are the leaf cutters or cigar making bees, others are the pesto making bees (masticated plant material without the garlic!) and others use mud inside the nest boxes. Some other solitary bees called mining bees, would not use these nest boxes.

“All my articles and videos, available free, are funded by my  teaching and sales of award winning bumblebee nest boxessolitary bee boxes,  and wormeries. Please help by spreading the word and forwarding this link to your friends and colleagues. http://nurturing-nature.co.uk  Thank you!” George Pilkington

Besides my own experiences and observations:

Kirk, W. D. J. & Howes, F. N. (2013) “Plants for Bees” ( Ch 4 Plants for solitary bees). visit IBRA for bee information, research and to buy the book, (I highly recommend it!)

Information leaflet for Osmia leaiana

For more information about the Royal Entomological Society  or to join

For more information about solitary bees  or better still join BWARS and help them with their work!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

marian morrison July 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Amazing isn’t it . I’ve been spending many a happy hour with various friends, family and neighbours looking at our bee boxes, all six are well occupied now. Great to view your tower box George with mason, leaf cutters and pesto, what endless patience they all have. My grape vine leaves have proved the most favourite to the bees being located just below the boxes.
Amazed at the amount of people you have to convince though that not all bees sting !! We certainly need this lovely summer to replenish all the insect life after the horrible wet summer last year.

Regards – Marian


nurturingnature July 29, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Great to hear that you are busy watching bees and busy convincing people that not all bees sting Marian. Good on yer!! Perhaps we should form a bee watching group!!!!! Cheers George


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