Tell it to the bees – our time is nearly up

I CANNOT begin to understand the theory of relativity as expounded by mega-mind Albert Einstein. But there is one thing the great man said which I can get my head round. He speculated that if the bee disappeared from this world then the species of man wou

I CANNOT begin to understand the theory of relativity as expounded by mega-mind Albert Einstein.

But there is one thing the great man said which I can get my head round.

He speculated that if the bee disappeared from this world then the species of man would last only four years after that.

His progression of thought was that no more bees meant no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more life.


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Bit worrying, don't you think? Especially since during the last 10 years Britain has seen a collapse of its wild and domestic honey bee population and the last winter saw it all but wiped out.

Up to a quarter of our native bees are on the endangered list with three species of bumblebee already believed to be extinct. The problem is repeated throughout Europe.

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So what can we do as responsible world citizens to slow or even reverse this alarming fall in the bee population?

Quite a bit, says a company which specialises in garden wildlife. There are more than 15 million gardens in the UK, it says, and if the owners of a small percentage put out a bumblebee nester or planted a few native wildflowers the combined efforts could have a positive effect.

So what are you waiting for. Go and help save the world.

Bees can be seen anywhere, of course, but the place I most associate them with is the countryside which, to my eye, is a wonder of the UK. As a place to visit on a pleasant summer day it beats a theme park every time, and it costs nothing to be there. Tourists visiting these shores from perhaps drier, dustier, drearier spots are often overjoyed by the sights of rural Britain.

The same cannot be said of the natives.

A new report out this week reveals that over half of the nation thinks visiting their countryside is boring and there is nothing to do or see there. Are they blind, daft or both?

Three thousand people were polled. The report extrapolates that five million adults would rather stay indoors and play with their Wii than take a trip into the great outdoors. A fifth of children found Nature's playground unexciting.

And it had not even crossed the mind of a third of the nation to take a trip outside the cities and towns.

What really surprised me was the lack of knowledge about natural objects. The oak tree, a sturdy symbol of old England, could not be identified by 44 per cent of respondents. Seventy-four per cent could not identify a horse chestnut tree. Were there so many who were never children with a stick to throw up and get conkers coming down in return?

Eighty-three per cent could not recognise a bluebell when shown a picture of the flower.

A third had difficulty in identifying a pheasant.

And one in 10 adults could not identify a sheep. Perhaps they thought someone was trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

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