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Bees In Your Garden. Part 1

Gareth Rocket  Hive.jpg


Historically it’s only relatively recently that there has been a connection between bees and human beings. Honeybees have evolved over 100 million years, long before man inhabited the Earth.

In ancient civilisations, bees held a sacred significance and mythical power. The Ancient Egyptians understood that honeybees were important go-betweens between life on Earth and life in the heavens. Gathering honey went beyond a practice focused on food supply and extended into a deeply spiritual relationship of care for both the ecological body of the planet and human bodies transitioning into the afterlife.


Some of the earliest known records of honeybee /human interaction can be found in cave drawings dating back to around 10,000 BC. The drawings on the walls of the Cuevas de la Araña in southern Spain show early humans plundering wild bees' nests for honey.

Today we relate to bees in fundamentally different ways; in fact, the range of attitudes is huge, extending from commercial beekeeping at one end of the scale right through to hosting bees in a private garden and seeking an inner connection with them.

Here at the NBKT, we lean towards the latter end of the scale. In the first of a series of features on ‘Bees in Your Garden’ we are going to explore what is needed to become a good host to honeybees

Re-Connecting with Nature

Modern day technology, TVs, computers and smartphones are increasingly consuming our daily lives, and as a result, many of us are losing our connection with nature.

Enjoying the company of bees in one's garden is felt by many as profoundly healing and restorative, especially so that people will experience how gentle these creatures can be when given the opportunity to live their exemplary lives free from disturbance.

Being A Bee Host

Being a bee host in its true sense is very simple. A host is an observer of free-living bees following their natural inclinations, just as nature intended.  There is no human interaction needed.

Some people may already be blessed with bees living in a cavity somewhere in the vicinity of their dwelling, whether it be an old oak tree in the garden or the roof space of their house.

In Cornwall, local folklore considers having bees living in your house as a sign of good luck. Indeed, in many parts of Eastern Europe bees inhabiting cavities in one's house is still experienced as a blessing, a special favour bestowed on the human dwelling by the spirit of the bees.


Before thinking about providing a habitat to host a colony of bees, one first needs to establish if the location is a suitable one. For honeybees to live a healthy existence they need diverse sources of organic nectar and pollen as well as easy access to fresh water, ideally not too far from their nesting place.

Bees can fly up to a distance of 3 miles for forage so you need to consider the wider landscape. Planting bee-friendly flowers and trees in your garden will certainly benefit the environment and other pollinators, but you may not necessarily see the bees you are hosting foraging on them. The presence of other beekeepers in the area is also something you need to be wary of, especially if there are a large number of colonies involved.

Another consideration is the proximity of neighbours. The ideal place would be in a rural setting, but a detached house with a large garden in a village or small town location may also be suitable. If there are close neighbours it might be worthwhile to try and enthuse them for the notion of hosting honeybees.

To succeed in this, your love for the honeybee needs to be grounded in good knowledge of the needs of the creature for a healthy life. Many people will be surprisingly receptive once they understand that all the challenges faced by honeybees today are due to human impact and that we are greatly in their debt.


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