“Unusually, the queen is laying eggs!” Philip Salfani cheers. Halfway through a centuries-old oak tree in central England, he notices rare wild bees through a small hole in the trunk.
“It’s a real classroom, it’s amazing, it’s incredible!” About fifteen meters above the grounds of the majestic Blenheim Palace, he continues about this fiery colony.
Longing on Bees, This 55-year-old South African physiologist firmly believes: these insects are not normal as he has spent the greater part of the last 18 months searching for bees in the old woods of the garden.
They come from a rare ecosystem – a subspecies that occupies a particular habitat – centuries ago in this area of Oxfordshire – he explains to AFP.
Although the DNA test results have not yet been confirmed, the discovery of possible offspring of local bees is already causing excitement in Blenheim and beyond.
These people were believed to have largely disappeared due to disease, pesticides and competition with alien species.
Bees are overused
According to Philip Sulfani, bees are overused to meet human consumption needs, causing harm to the environment: the risk of stress to bees or the transformation of others. Insects.
“The bee has developed a hero status because it allows us to manage the bee (…) but we have marketed something that should not be,” he believes.
And native bees are endangered around the world. At UK, Most of these insects are foreign-origin and live in managed hives, with an estimated one-third of local bees becoming extinct in recent decades, especially those destroyed by the parasitic verruca mite. Philippe Sulfani believed that Blenheim’s bees did not appear to be affected and thus they were embraced.
Large areas inaccessible to the general public, lack of managed hives or agricultural production, have proven the estate to be a suitable environment for this. Insecticides.
Hundreds of hectares of its ancient trees, mostly preserved, have the largest concentrations of ancient oaks in Europe. Some are 600 years old.
Felipe Salpani, a former international cyclist who coaches athletes, began his research there without much confidence.
To his surprise, he counted nearly 50 bees in the trees, surprisingly resistant to winter. He estimates their number could reach 500. According to him, some hives may be as old as 200 years. “Unfortunately, there are not many places like this.”
It is a bee that is unaware of pesticides, chemicals, and survival stress.
Blenheim bees are usually smaller, hairy and darker than those inhabited in the UK. “This is a bee that is unaware of pesticides, chemicals, and survival stress,” he insists.
Their existence has global implications, he believes. “If we can find local subspecies (…) of bees, we can learn more about the environment and improve farming practices.”
“It’s okay to be inside Romania, In Bulgaria or France, we need to look at the species that survive and understand the factors that affect bees, be it chemicals, pesticides, human intervention.
Nick Pimbridge, head of the Blenheim Forest Service, said the bees had not been noticed in the three decades he worked at the Blenheim site. “We didn’t really care until Philip came in and pointed out that it’s very unique.”
According to Rob Stoneman of the Wildlife Foundation, the discovery is “significant”: “it shows the value and complexity of our ancient forests and the need to permanently preserve these unique habitats.”
“Beeraholic. Friend of animals everywhere. Evil web scholar. Zombie maven.”