When I was a little girl, one of my biggest fears was bees … until I got stung.
Then it was all ok and the pain was minimal, but the guilt I felt after accidentally squashing that little fuzzy bug with my hand, was awful – it was so pretty and I knew it had an important job to do. Since then I’ve been fascinated by watching bees work and fly, by the pollen they keep in little bags on their wings and legs. Just beautiful.
But I don’t just love bees because honey is delicious. Oh no. Did you know that bees are imperative to our lifestyle too?
You might have heard some buzz (!) about the threat of bee extinction. It’s not just climate-change “propaganda”. This is a very legit problem we have to contend with in our changing world, after treating it like shit for the past few centuries. And we’ve really messed with the bees and other pollinators, like fruit bats, birds and butterflies. Losing our pollinators would mean the end of plenty of food groups, as well as have a massive and devastating impact on agriculture and the environment in general.Every animal has its place in the ecosystem – and perhaps none so important as the bee. VICE summed this up very neatly here.
So – why’s it happening? Deforestation, pests, insecticides, pollution and climate change are all to blame for the decline. It’s hard to find exact figures, and especially global ones, but scientists are concerned enough about it to be documenting die-off rates.
The National Academies in the USA estimated, in a 2006 report, that 75 per cent of the world’s flowering plant species rely on pollinators.
So basically, we need bees. And you’ll probably agree after reading the next bit …
Thanks to pollinators, you can (at present) enjoy the following foods, care of the following creatures:
ALFALFA: leafcutter bees and honey bees
ALMOND: honey bees
ANISE: honey bee
APPLE: honey bees, blue mason orchard bees
AVOCADO: bees, flies, bats
BANANA: birds, fruit bats
BLUEBERRY: More than 115 kinds of bees, including bumblebees, mason bees, mining bees and leafcutter bees
CARDAMOM: honey bees, solitary bees
CASHEW: bees, moths, fruit bats
CHERRY: honey bees, Bumblebees, Solitary bees, flies
CHOCOLATE: midges (flies), stingless bees
COCONUT: insects and fruit bats
COFFEE: stingless bees, other bees or flies
CORIANDER: honey bees, solitary bees
CRANBERRY: More than 40 native bees, including bumble
DAIRY PRODUCTS: Diary cows eat ALFALFA pollinated by leafcutter and honey bees
FIG: 800 kinds of fig wasps
KIWIFRUIT: honey bees, bumblebees, solitary bees
MACADAMIA NUT: bees, beetles, wasps
MANGO: bees, flies, wasps
NUTMEG: honey bees, bird
PAPAYA: moths, birds, bees
PEAR: honey bees, flies, mason bees
PEPPERMINT: flies, bees
PUMPKIN: squash and gourd bees, bumblebees
RASPBERRY and BLACKBERRY: honey bees, bumblebees, solitary bees, hover flies
SESAME: bees, flies, wasps
SUGARCANE: bees, thrips
TEA PLANTS: flies, bees and other insects
TEQUILA (AGAVE): bats
TOMATO: bumble bees
So what can be done?
Firstly, stop using nasty chemicals in your garden. These kill bees and they’re also really bad for you. There are plenty of eco-friendly and effective options around.
Making your garden bee-friendly is a great and also aesthetically pleasing way to help the bees. Planting fragrant flowers and herbs will bring them into your garden and keep them healthy and busy. Lavender is my personal favourite!
You can also buy bees and install beehives at your place if you have the room. Some local councils will give you a beehive and bees to kickstart the process.
One of my all-time favourite companies, Weleda, is a champion for bees. In fact, they provide bee habitats to schools around the country to get kids interested in bee conservation, while actively participating in it. More information about their Bee B&B Hotel project is here.