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Take a Honey Walk
The Honeybee Science Research Center at Japan's Tamagawa University have joined with the not for profit organisation One Thousand Flowers for Bees Tokyo to create the Honey Walk. Honey bees in Japan have suffered for many years from shortage of pollen and nectar sources and need more flowers to visit. So why do we not grow more nectar and pollen sources in fields, gardens and parks? Let us change unused fields to sweet gardens full of attractive flowers for bees. With these messages, we will guide ecology-conscious people to the magical world of honey bees.
As a healthy sweetener, many types of honey are on the market and the honey bee is a very familiar character in Japan: on T-shirts, bags or in songs, 'cute' bees are everywhere. But the fact is that people often fear bee stings and are afraid of honey bees buzzing near to them.
In Japan we no longer find children with nets chasing insects on a summer morning. Yet, when eco-friendly people hear of the difficult conditions of honey bees in this country and want to help, they are not sure how to support the bees.
Our Honey Walk is designed to make people more bee-friendly by showing them honey bees at work in their neighbourhood. The event starts with a lecture to introduce honey bees, bees and the environment, beekeeping, bee products, and bee plants. With the recent publication on our melliferous flora by Professor Masami Sasaki (see below), discussions on bee plants have become active and exciting.
Next, participants take a walk with the lecturer. The route is carefully planned because it is essential to see flowers in full bloom that bees are visiting on the day of the walk. We research in advance so that the group will find various types of plants. The walk will include roadside trees, flowers and trees in homes and parks, field crops and waterside; and the lecturer will point out good nectar and/or pollen sources. Participants learn that even if there are plenty of sweet flowers in bloom, honey bees cannot use them if the flower structures or nectary positions do not fit. Many walkers are surprised to know that some double-petal flowers or hybrids do not provide a nectar flow or make pollen, even though they look beautiful to the human eye. Visiting an apiary during the walk can be an added bonus; with views of a wild Apis cerana colony or an extra Apis mellifera hive adding more interest. Honey Walkers are impressed to see honey bees working for their colony.
In early summer, a group started walking from a lecture hall at about 1300 hours. They were asked to check the Boston ivy Pathenocissus tricuspidata growing on the wall before they left. Beneath the green leaves there were many yellow-green flowers on the vine, but no bees. However, when they came back from the walk at 1500 hours the wall was noisy with many honey bees buzzing around the leaves and gathering nectar. Why? What happened? It was explained to the participants how Boston ivy nectar flow is only for a short period at a specific time of day, around 1500 hours. Bees learn this and with their internal clock will fly to the vine only at nectar flow time. This is an amazing fact about honey bees and bee plants - seeing really is believing. Honey Walkers acquire a bees' eye view and are stimulated to grow those plants that are most attractive to bees.
Hitomi Enomoto, AAA Co-ordinator, ApiScience Information Services, Tokyo, Japan
Bee's Eye View of Flowering Plants - Nectar and pollen sources and related honey bee products. This is a high quality book containing an abundance of fantastic photographs of bees and their flora: available from www.beesfordevelopment.org/catalog
AAA was established in 1992 to encourage exchange of information between beekeepers and bee scientists in Asia. The 11th AAA Conference in September in Malaysia. for more information.
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