Insects, bees, poems

June is a strange month for bees. On the one hand, it seems that everything should be blooming, but on the other, we get what beekeepers call the June gap – a sudden and significant reduction in pollen and nectar, which means that honey bees are at risk of starvation. This is a phenomenon of recent decades, connected to the loss of cover crops like white clover and phacelia in farming.

I recently wrote about how we can help honey bees and other pollinators in Now Then Magazine. As the Wildlife Trust points out, ‘the UK’s gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together’ – so our gardens (and window boxes and pots) are super important in supporting pollinators.

I have been thinking more and more about how we are living in a moment of absolute ecological crisis, particularly about how insects are at critical risk of extinction because of the loss of habitat and use of insecticides. I published a poem related to this, about the complicated situation of honey bees in Australia in a recent issue of The London Magazine.

The children at Hunters Bar Junior school asked me some brilliant questions about how to help insects last week, during my talk about taking care of honey bees and other crucial pollinators (butterflies, wasps, bumblebees and small flies). I’ve also started getting involved with Nether Edge and Sharrow Sustainable Transformation (NESST) who are just one of the local groups doing wonderful local work supporting wildlife in urban areas. NESST have been working to increase the habitats for swifts, plant more street trees and support brimstone butterflies.

I recently listened to Jay Griffiths reading a brilliant piece on insects, where she powerfully pointed out that ‘insecticides kill insects.’ It’s that simple. We need insects to keep us alive – killing them makes no sense. Spreading the word about this might be one of the most important things we can do.

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