The warming temperatures and abundant flowers of spring bring our bees out of hiding. In Summer they get really busy, which means you’re probably seeing plenty of our little fuzzy flying friends out and about right now.
Hold up, did we say plenty?
Over one third of the UK’s bee population has disappeared in recent years. The UK has lost 13 species of bee altogether in the last century. Sadly, this picture is replicated worldwide. In the US, you’re reportedly half as likely to see a bumblebee as you were around 50 years ago. Right now, 1 in 10 wild bee species across Europe are heading for extinction, fast.
Sounds pretty bleak, right?
Why’s it happening?
The truth is, there doesn’t seem to be one definitive reason. Scientists have identified a number of contributing factors, including the deadly varroa destructor parasite and intensive farming practises which lead to the reduction of wildflower habitats and heavy insecticide usage – both of which affect bees directly. Agricultural and urban beekeeping (that is, the breeding and keeping of bees for honey production) could also be harming wild bee populations. As you might expect, there’s growing evidence that climate change also plays a role. These factors interact and combine to weaken and destroy bee communities everywhere.
Why Does it Matter?
As vegans, the decimation of any animal species matters hugely to us. But even if you’re not vegan, the role bees play in your everyday life might surprise you.
According to the British Beekeepers Association, bees are responsible for pollinating 30% of what we eat. Most fruit and vegetables, many nuts, many plants that become oil, even coffee, all rely on bees for existence: they are the product of fertilization which happens when bees carry pollen where it needs to go.
Around one third of our plant foods simply wouldn’t be here without bees. Guess our farmers could pollinate artificially… sound viable? Well, it would only run the economy a cool £1.8 billion a year.
Cotton is also often cross-pollinated by bees. Bees don’t only feed the world; they help clothe it too.
Wild bees are an integral cog in the ecosystem of this planet, contributing to complex food chains and building habitats for untold numbers of species. 90% of wildflowers are pollinated by bees. They’re important prey to a number of animals, such as birds and spiders.
It can’t be overstated: bees matter.
How Can You Help?
With all that’s stacked against these buzzy little guys it might feel like there’s not much you can do. At Bonsan, we believe that each one of us has the potential to have a big impact on the Earth.
Here are some ways, big and small, you can the bees:
- Read this useful article on how and when to rescue a bee (hint: sugar water isn’t always best!)
- Get to know bees! This helpful sheet will have you telling your Honeybee from your Red Mason in no time.
- Sign this petition to ask our government to ensure reduced use of pesticides in the UK
- Take part in a bee survey, such as the UK pollinator monitoring scheme, or a bee walk
- Choose organic – register your disapproval for widespread pesticide use by voting with your wallet
- Avoid using pesticides at home
- Buy local where possible
- Plant a bee friendly garden.
- Avoid honey and bee products: by reducing demand for agricultural bee products, we impact supply with positive knock-on effects for the wild bee population.
Will you pledge to do your bit? #Beesfortheplanet