Today, May 20th, is World Bee Day! In 2017 the United Nations declared May 20th to be World Bee Day after several proposals from Slovenia. This day was chosen due to it being the birth date of the beekeeping pioneer Anton Janša. You can find out more about the origins of World Bee Day on the project’s website.
The purpose of World Bee Day is to raise awareness of the alarming rate of the decline of bees and educate people as to why they are so important for our lives. Bees are one of our most important pollinator; it would cost UK farmers £1.8 billion to do the pollination work that bees and other pollinators do for free. The global value of these pollinators is thought to be as much as $557 billion A YEAR. But bees are rapidly declining, with 1 in 10 species thought to be at risk of total extinction. US beekeepers faced a loss of 33% of their bee colonies in 2017 alone.
In an effort to help just a little this World Bee Day, I want to share with you some bee-related books and products, and give you some easy tips for helping the population of our pollinators!
The Bees was Carol Ann Duffy’s first collection as Poet Laureate and uses the bee as a symbol throughout the poems, which emphasise our need to protect them.
Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees follows Lily, a young white girl to whom her mother’s death is a mystery. When her black nanny, Rosaleen, gets into trouble with a group of deeply racist men, the two escape and find refuge with three black beekeeping sisters. The Secret Life of Bees is as much about Lily’s coming of age as it is an exploration of race relations in 60s South Carolina.
The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner is the perfect book for teaching children how important bees are. With beautiful and fun illustrations, Milner teaches children how hard bees work and why we must work just as hard to help them.
David Wallace-Well’s The Uninhabitable Earth isn’t strictly about bees, but the single dead bee on the cover is always so striking to me and highlights the fact that the decline of bees is just one of the huge impacts that climate change is having on our planet.
If you’re after something that looks more in depth at the importance of bees and the impact of climate change on them, then Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees has got you covered. Thor Hansen uncovers the history of bees as a species, how they impact our Earth, and what we must do to save them.
Nectar & Bumble do the cutest homeware, gifts, and skincare. They even do a bee-themed monthly subscription box so you can get bumblebee goodness delivered to your door every month! Nectar & Bumble donate 10% of their profits to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Friends of the Earth.
Bee Friendly Seeds sell seed packets to grow flowers that bees and other pollinators love. Since WWII, over 97% of the UK’s wildflowers have been destroyed which has resulted in a huge reduction in bees’ natural habitats. Plant some wildflowers in your garden to help the bees! They even do adorable personalised wedding favour packets. Bee Friendly Sees donate a portion of their profits to insect charities and organisations.
Bee Good knows that honey is fantastic for your skin. They have a huge skincare range that uses honey and other botanicals whilst helping our favourite pollinators. Not only do their products look great, they have loads of information about the beauty industry’s impact on bees so that you can make informed decisions about your skincare choices. They donate to bee charities and support the education and training of young beekeepers, along with helping to plant wildflower meadows all over the country.
Friends of the Earth offer this great Bee Saver Kit, including wildflower seeds, guide book, garden planner, bee spotting guide, and postcards so that you can actively make your garden a bee haven. All you need to do is make a minimum donation of £5, which will cover the cost of the kit. If you’d like to donate more, that will help Friends of the Earth continue to do their brilliant work to protect our planet.
Want to get a little more hands-on with helping our honey friends? Here are some handy tips for how to protect our bees and help them thrive!
Let your lawn grow wild!
Bees love long grass to feed in and hide in, so give the mower a rest and let your grass grow! The natural dandelions, daisies, and clovers are a great source of food for bees too.
Plant wildflower seeds and bee-friendly plants!
We all know bees feed on pollen, but with huge reductions in wildflower meadows and increased urbanisation, bees are running out of places to find their food! Help them out by planting wildflowers and other bee-friendly plants such as crocuses, rhododendrons, forget-me-nots, daisies, lily of the valley, and plenty of others. Bees also love herbs too, so you can help our little friends and grow your very own home herb garden. Some of their favourite herbs are lavender, mint, rosemary and sage. You don’t need a big garden to plant some bee-friendly flowers – a window box or a few patio pots is enough to lend a helping hand.
Stop using pesticides and herbicides!
Using chemicals to kill those pesky pests might be handy but it’s a major contributor to the decline of bees, especially the treatments that contain neonicotinoids. These pesticides can be extremely harmful for bees and their colonies. The Honeybee Conservancy suggests only using organic pesticides and spraying your plants at night, when pollinators are less active, to avoid harming any bees and butterflies that are so vital to our planet. You can also buy organic food to support farmers who don’t use pesticides.
Create a water bath for the bees…
Bees need water too! Create a water bath for your local bees by filling up a shallow birdbath or bowl. The water shouldn’t be too deep – bees are only tiny, you know! – so if you don’t have a shallow bowl then create a little landscape from rocks, stones, and twigs, so that the bees have platforms to perch on whilst they rehydrate.
… but leave out the sugar!
A recent myth has been circulating that you can feed sleepy bees a sugar-water mixture to help perk them up again. Whilst this might be fine for one little bee, some people have taken to leaving entire sugar water baths out for bees. Bees are efficient and getting sugar from a water bath is far quicker than visiting plants for pollen, so they’ll flock to the bath and then take that watered-down sugar back to their hive, where it has no nutritional value. Not only does it have a detrimental effect on the hive, but it produces poor quality honey, threatening the livelihood of local beekeepers.
Install a bee hotel in your garden!
With the huge decline in bees’ natural habitats, they could do with some help. Bee hotels help provide breeding grounds for local pollinators. You can buy a bee hotel or even create your own using a plastic bottle, twigs, and bamboo – hey, it’s better than that plastic bottle ending up in the ocean, right? Bee hotels do best in sunny spots, safe from water and damp.
Support your local beekeeper by buying honey and other bee by-products from these independent sellers. These beekeepers work hard to help sustain the local environment and keep it healthy and safe for bees, so support them by buying their products rather than opting for supermarket items. Plus, you’ll get a much wider variety of honey flavours, as the tastes will depend on what flowers the hive has been feeding on!
Donate to bee charities, or volunteer!
Donating to charity is a great way to help support organisations that have the breadth and manpower to make major change. Why not ask people to donate to your favourite bee charity in lieu of birthday gifts? A number of charities offer volunteer opportunities where you may be able to get involved with planting wildflower meadows or talking to communities about the importance of bees. Some charities that you could donate to are Friends of the Earth (who will send you the Bee Saver Kit mentioned above if you donate over £5), The Honeybee Conservancy, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and The Bee Friendly Trust. My personal favourite is
Bees for Development, which provides beekeeping skills to low-income communities to help reduce poverty and increase the bee population.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and have been
inspired to help the bees this World Bee Day!
Have an unBEElievable week x