Bees are not the bee all and end all of pollinating species. (see what I did there?).
This week the LTL office has been buzzing with a never ending stream of bee puns and jokes following the announcement by the Heritage Lottery Fund of their support for our Polli:Nation programme.
The usual round of press announcements and articles has ensued and it is gratifying to see all of the positive coverage.
We have schools contacting us daily wanting to be a part of Polli:Nation and we are very excited about the potential impact of this piece of work on some of our most at-risk pollinator species.
Inevitably there will be the odd comment from detractors and we have already seen an ill-informed on-line response to one newspaper article asking who will pay compensation when a child gets stung.
We could ignore this but I think it is worth addressing for a number of reasons.
Firstly – not all pollinators are stinging bees. Some are of course but we have a wealth of other species in the butterfly, moth, hoverfly and bird world who also have a vital role to play and this programme is as much about them as it is about the various species of bee.
Secondly – children are likely to get stung on occasion. For the vast majority this is not a problem and serves only to remind them to be careful around such creatures. The same applies to jellyfish, mosquitos, hamsters and other things that seem to delight in causing us discomfort when provoked, albeit often accidentally.
For those few who genuinely have a serious reaction to a bee sting there is a need to learn how to avoid putting yourself at risk. Where better to do this than in the safe and supervised environment of a school where help and medical knowledge is immediately at hand should things go wrong. If we do not teach children how to manage risk in their own lives then we are not setting them up well for adulthood.
Avoiding all bees in school grounds is virtually impossible anyway and surely it is better to learn about them and their ways so that you can be safer when outside of school.
And thirdly – we need bees as pollinators in order for our own species to survive. Without them the food chain will irrevocably breakdown and we will not be able to eat.
So – bee careful, bee safe and bee inspired.
*Juno Hollyhock is the Executive Director at Learning through Landscapes. Visit them online at www.ltl.org.uk.