Im My View: Zac Goldsmith MP
I want to use my inaugural column to promote beekeeping.
The ordered, civilised and mystical world of bees is about as far from the corridors of compromise and power as it is possible to be, but my instruction was to avoid politics, so I will.
I used to keep bees and it is not always easy.
When I set off to harvest my first-ever honey crop, dressed in the white bee suit, with a friend who had kept bees for decades, a single bee found its way through a hole in the netting protecting my head.
It stung me, sent out a signal (I assume) and was followed by dozens of its colleagues.
But it did not put me off. On the contrary, I will keep bees again and encourage everyone to do the same. Bee numbers have plummeted in recent years and we need a beekeeping revival.
Earlier this week, conservationists reintroduced the short-haired bumblebee to the south of England after 25 years of extinction – good news for us all.
Bees are essential to the environment and help as many as 85 per cent of the world’s plants reproduce.
In addition, we rely on them to pollinate about a third of our food supply, at an estimated retail value of £1bn a year.
Fortunately, there are signs the revival is happening. Here in Kingston, the Mosque has new hives, as does the Kingston Environment Centre and Kingston University.
Assuming they have two hives each – that means these three organisations alone have provided homes for more than 100,000 bees.
Anyone can help reverse the collapse in the bee population and if you can persuade your school or organisations to follow the mosque’s example, you will be doing an enormous service to our economy, nature and – if you like honey – you will be directly rewarded.
If you want to know more, visit kingstonbeekeepers.
org.uk, or the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at bumblebeeconservation.org.