Nature Nuggets

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How doth the little busy bee,
Improve each shining hour.
And gather honey all the day,
From every opening flower!
How skilfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labors hard to store it well,
With the sweet food she makes.

This charming poem by Isaac Watts celebrates how industrious bees are. But there’s much more about them that is inspiring. Keep reading to find out!

World Bee Day is today, 20 May! Did you know that around 75% of the crops we grow for different uses depend on pollinators like bees? By carrying pollen from one flower to another in their search for nectar, bees benefit plants, the environment, and people. This edition of Nature Nuggets takes a look at the fascinating relationship we have with bees and explores what we can do to keep our fields and gardens abuzz.


Bee inspired: Pollination aside, bees help us in many interesting ways.

  • Got a cut or scrape? Special wound dressings treated with honey have been found to prevent the growth of bacteria and help healing.
  • As nature’s expert architects, bees build perfect hexagonal cells from wax when building their hive. Hexagons are one of the strongest and most space-efficient shapes with which to build. Inspired by bees’ architectural design, architects and engineers are using hexagonal structures to build lightweight yet strong parts used in airplanes, spacecraft, boats, cars, and more.

For the love of bees: Recent decades have seen an alarming drop in bee populations globally. Countries and communities need to support pollinator-friendly agriculture, ban pesticides that harm bees, and take steps to protect our pollinator pals. Check out these bee-friendly initiatives.

  • In some countries, farmers are letting weeds—usually native plants and wildflowers—grow in the margins of their fields to attract bees and other useful insects.
  • In the UK and the Netherlands, bees are getting a boost from bee bus stops—bus stops with mini rooftop gardens installed. It’s a brilliant way to support bee populations right in our urban backyards!
  • Cities are creating ‘bee highways’—paths lined with bee-friendly plants—that guide these tiny pollinators around the urban jungle.

Become a bee buddy: Bees could use all the help they can get, so join in!

  • You can transform your balcony or neighbourhood garden into a pollinator’s paradise by planting native, bee-friendly flowering plants.
  • Try building a bee hotel that gives bees a place to seek shelter from the weather or build a hive.
  • Most importantly, learn more about bees and spread the word. Share the importance of bees with everyone you know and prove yourself a bee buddy!

Common Name: Stingless Melipona Bee
Scientific Name: Melipona spp.

Meet the Melipona bee, a stingless bee from Mexico and Central America. This small bee is adapted for a unique job—pollinating the flowers of vanilla orchids, whose fruits, called vanilla beans, are used to make vanilla flavouring! So dainty are the flowers that they can be pollinated only by small bees like the Melipona bee. The plant flowers once a year, and a bloom lasts for only a few hours, making the Melipona bee’s job extremely important.

Without this bee, these orchids have to be painstakingly hand-pollinated, making natural vanilla very expensive. So, the next time you enjoy a scoop of vanilla ice cream, remember the tiny Melipona bee!

Time to check your Nature Quotient!


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