A Little Bit Food Co is founded on a long tradition of horticulture and gardening, and we want to do our part to ensure a healthy environment for all creatures. That’s why we’ve joined the Bumblebee Conservation Trust community, a charity whose mission is to halt and reverse the decline of bumblebees in the UK.
Why are we supporting UK bumblebees? It’s well known that bumblebees numbers have been declining for years, and that this is having a detrimental effect on our environment and the countryside. For us, this hits home for a number of reasons:
Bumblebees are essential for pollination, and thus have a key role in producing much of the food we eat.
Fresh herbs are the foundation of all of our products, and they require pollination, too. Thyme, chives, lavender, borage, hyssop, sage, marjoram, dill, parsley, rosemary - bumblebees are essential for their propagation, and thus our business!
Bumblebees only feed on flowers, and their decline is directly correlated with large scale changes in the countryside that have reduced the number of flowers for bees to feed on. These changes are directly related to farming practices led by consumer demand. As a small food business ourself, we hope to demonstrate to consumers that they can make better choices about the food they buy - those choices can have a cascading positive impact on the environment, including bumblebees.
Individuals and small groups CAN make a difference. Gardens cover over one million acres in the UK. This presents a great opportunity to provide food for bumblebees. If more people used their garden spaces more effectively, the overall landscape would be a better place for bumblebees. (See Gardening for bumblebees to learn more.)
Getting back to basics, we simply love having bumblebees in our garden! Their buzzing about is a big part of summer and we love watching them feed on our flowering herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
Fascinating facts about bumblebees:
Bees need to eat continuously as they have such fast metabolisms. According to scientist Dave Goulson: “A bumblebee with a full stomach is only ever about 40 minutes from starvation.”
Bumblebees don’t die when they sting. That’s just a thing in honeybees. So yes, a bumblebee can sting you twice. However, male bumblebees don’t have a stinger at all, and female bumblebees aren’t very aggressive, so unless you go barging into their nest, you’re likely safe.
Bees have smelly feet. Bees, like all insects, are covered in an oily film that makes them waterproof. When they land on a flower, they leave their chemical signature behind. Other bees can smell these oily footprints left on flowers, and know not to land on the same place—the nectar’s already been pillaged. Bees also use these footprints as a sort of smelly “Welcome Home” mat; the scent helps them find their way back to the entrance of their nest.
Bumblebees air condition their nests with their own wings. If the nest gets too hot, worker bees post themselves near the entrance and fan the hot air out, like tiny flapping A/C units. The hotter it is, the more workers join in the effort in order to keep the nest at exactly 86 degrees Fahrenheit, their preferred temperature. If their body temperature rises above 111 degrees, the bumblebees will die.
To learn more about bumblebees and what you can do to help reverse their declining numbers, visit the Bumblebee Conservation Trust which has loads of great information and advice, plus details about joining the community, volunteering, and events across the UK.