I remember when I was a young girl, putting on one of my Dads beekeeper veils and heading down the garden to help him with his bee hives. I can’t remember how long it took before a few bee stings put me off being dads special ‘helper’.
I do remember the delicious honey and honey comb that appeared along with a very messy and sticky kitchen.
30 years on and my Dad still keeps bees, but it has not been without challenges: for example the varroa mite and my Mothers serious allergy to bees!
It has only been relatively recently that I have come to truly appreciate the significance of these incredible insects. Partly thanks to ‘Bee Movie’, partly to Alison Benjamin and Brian MacCallum’s ‘A World Without Bees’ and more recently due to Neals Yard Remedies ‘Bee Lovely and Help Save the Bees’ campaign.
Since researching these wee wonderful creatures, I have come to realise that we should be very very concerned about what is happening to our pollinators and the implications of their declining populations.
Bees and wild pollinators are vanishing from our world at an alarming pace. It is a global problem. In the USA, one in three hives were lifeless at the beginning of 2008. In Britain, beekeepers have lost up to 80% of their hives in the last few years and experts have warned that honeybees could disappear entirely from Britain by 2018.
Without bees and wild pollinators, agriculture as we know if would collapse. Bees are the canary in the coal mine. Their disappearance is a warning signal. Protect them and we protect our future. Without bees or wild pollinators we would have:
- No flowers
- No fruit
- No cotton
- No chocolate
- No silk
- No coffee
- Fewer spices
- Fewer vegetables
- Almost no meat
- Almost no dairy
So why are bees disappearing? There are many theories, but in simple terms, pesticides are poising bees and the loss of habitat and wild flowers is starving them to death.
As a result of mounting evidence as to the harmfulness of pesticides, Paris and Tokyo have declared themselves as pesticide free. Their urban bee populations are now thriving.
One of the worst culprits are the neonicotinoids. These are a pesticide which is 7,000 times more toxic than DDT. DDT has been banned in the UK and Australia for more than 20 years. Even small doses of neonics disorientate bees and impair their foraging ability.
Varroa has also plagued the bee population in recent years. Australia is the only honey-producing country that has not been affected by this mite that has devastated bee populations in other parts of the world. It is estimated that between 20-30% of managed honeybee hives would die in the first wave of varroa infestation in Australia.
The humble bee is an undervalued yet essential part of our survival, but they are under attack and need our help.
So what is the solution? Moving towards more holistic bee keeping practices as well as organic farming that avoids using pesticides is the obvious solution. The Soil Association indicates that ‘the scientific evidence that organic farming supports a greater variety and more wildflowers and insects is clear’.
So how can you help?
- Buy organic or pesticide –free produce wherever possible
- Stop using insecticides and pesticides in your homes and gardens
- Let some of your garden go wild to encourage more pollinators
- Buy chemical free, raw honey from a local bee keeper
- Plant bee friendly herbs and wildflowers
- Become a bee keeper
Neals Yard Remedies, a leading independent British retailer of organic natural health and beauty products, are passionate about healthy organic living, in harmony with nature. Their ‘Bee Lovely’ campaign supports bee friendly initiatives and £1 from every tube of ‘Bee Lovely Hand Cream’ goes to Buglife, Landlife and Pesticide Action Network OK. If you would like to find out more about NYR and how you can help save the bees then click here.
If you live in the UK, or have friends and family in the UK, then click here for NYR wonderful range or organic products. If you would like to receive regular newsletters from Neals Yard Remedies with information on new product lines and special offers, click here.
To find out more about our incredible bees and wild pollinators and what you can do to help save them, visit www.nealsyardremedies.com/bee-lovely or any of these great organisations:
- The Barefoot Beekeeper: www.biobees.com
- Bee Guardian Foundation: www beeguardianfoundation.org
- Buglife: www.buglife.org.uk
- Natural Beekeeping Trust: www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.org
- Soil Association www.soilassociation.org
Alison Benjamin and Brian MacCallum: A world Without Bees
Neals Yard Remedies: Bee Lovely and help Save the Bees