Bees: there’s a lot of buzz around bees because they are responsible for at least one third of what we eat. Without them the human race is more than likely doomed.
They are the busy little creatures who pollinate our trees, fruit, vegetables, flowers and all things green. They give us honey and beeswax. They can even show us how to build and organise when we bother to study them. And here at Little Herbs we love them because they produce the gorgeous honey and wax that we love using in many of our products. Wax which turns oils into ointments, which, along with honey, help preserve our healthy skincare products, and contribute to their healing properties.
But bees are under threat. In 2006 Colony Collapse Disorder was first defined, and during the intervening years millions of hives have been killed off worldwide. Blame for this horror, initially noted in the winter of 2004/2005, was directed at varroa mites (the "vampire mite" scare), though this was never scientifically confirmed.
Others have pointed to bacterial infections, or dosing them with antibiotics, or the practice of transporting hives across hundreds of miles disturbing their usual patterns. Reliable British figures are hard to come by but some beekeepers reported up to 80% of their colonies dying out. Generally, it is thought that Britain has lost a third of its bees since 2006.
Certainly chemicals such as neonicotinoids are in the frame as bee-disturbers and have been banned, as have various other toxic substances, and, it has to be said, hive collapse is, mercifully, less common now. Studies are beginning to show that there is not one reason for all this destruction. The causes are multiple: it is likely related to the cocktail of pesticides and fertilisers poured onto and into crops across the world in an effort to increase yields combined with declining biodiversity, climate change, monoculture which affects the availability of suitable food for bees, and much more besides.
So our bees need to be nurtured. What can you do to create a buzz? We have a few suggestions:
1. Support your local beekeepers by buying their honey. There are plenty of beehives in cities across Britain, so urban living is no excuse! Try to avoid mass-produced honey – even when it’s labelled ‘organic’ - because it will likely come from multiple countries, some of which may have inadequate certification processes.
2. Even better, become a beekeeper. Contact your local beekeepers’ network, they will be delighted to help. If you can’t do that, then put up a bee-house in your garden: a place where bees, one of the 250 native British species, can over-winter safely.
3. Consume organic produce whenever possible. That way you won’t be supporting the over-use of agro-chemicals.
4. Plant bee-friendly plants and trees – and don’t use pesticides!
5. Learn about bees: they are truly magnificent.
If you're interested in BEEKEEPING click here
If you're interested in SAVING BEES click here
If you're interested in BEE SCIENCE click here