I’ve always been quietly fascinated by bees. I was never a screecher or a runner, mainly because I genuinely find the hum of bees to be relaxing rather than intimidating. But my quiet interest has recently turned into a complete obsession. In this blog post I’m going to compile a few of my favourite resources, so that you can educate yourself about how incredible bees are and hopefully you will join the fight to save the bees.
Why should I Care?
- Bees are responsible for pollinating 70 out of the 100 (ish) crop species which feed 90% of the population. That’s a whole lot of food which will disappear if the bees die out
- If we lose the plants that bees pollinate, we may also lose the animals which rely on those plants to live
- The bees are disappearing at a really scary rate, and if we don’t do something now we may genuinely struggle to feed a large proportion of the population
Some cool bee facts:
- When beekeepers smoke the hive to ‘relax’ the bees, the reason it doesn’t anger bees is because they have evolved (in response to woodland fires) to gorge themselves on honey when they see smoke, so that they will have enough energy to follow their Queen when she leaves the hive. So, the smoke basically triggers the bees to stuff their faces. Amazing.
- Honey bees communicate via dancing, and the dance is called the ‘Waggle Dance’ – they use the dance to communicate locations of food sources. It’s a complex and pretty snazzy dance, which I think sounds a lot like morse code, but with bee body movements rather than dots and dashes.
- Queen bees and worker bees share the exact same genes. Some female bees are groomed to be future Queens, they are fed royal jelly, (bigger portions than the rest), and are given bigger cells in the hive. But, only one can take over from the current Queen … (dun dun duuun)
- The worker bees are all female and do all the work. Drones (male bees) literally just exist to mate – but, there have been instances of Queen bees managing to create new bees (male and female) without the help of a drone. Aka, there is the slight, tiny, hypothetical possibility for female-only hives of bees in the future.
Why buy organic honey?
The issue that most vegans have with the production of honey, is the issue of bee enslavement and cruelty towards bees. I’m not personally vegan, I’m vegetarian, but I do try to avoid products which directly have a negative impact on animals. That’s why I’d say it’s much better to buy organic, or ‘free-range’ honey which is pretty easy to find. Most independent beekeepers absolutely adore their bees and do their best to keep them safe. It is usually the huge bee farms which mass-produce honey which will do things like handle the bees carelessly which leads to bee deaths, or chop off a Queen’s wings so that she cannot ever leave the hive. If you’re massively against any kind of exploitation, honey won’t be the one for you, but there are loads of vegan alternatives: I read a blog post which I’ll link here. If you love honey, try to find a local brand of honey which isn’t mass-produced.
Podcasts to listen to:
Jonathan Van Ness (from Queer Eye!) hosts a podcast called ‘Getting Curious‘. In April, he hosted Dr James Nieh who speaks about how incredible bees are and lets us in on some bee secrets. The episode is called ‘How Can We Be Less Rude To Bees‘. Side note: Dr Nieh has the most relaxing voice in the world! Check out some of his lectures on YouTube if you want to hear more from him.
Media Sound Wave is a British podcast which produced an episode called Save the Bees speaking with Erik Bognar about the art of honey and what will happen if we don’t look after the bees. (This ep. isn’t as great as the Getting Curious ep. but I thought I’d include it anyway, it’s only short).
How Can I Help?
- Plant wildflowers! Gardener’s World has a very comprehensive list of bee-friendly flowers.
- Leave natural plants to grow where they are
- Become a bee-keeper! I’d absolutely love to keep bees. If you’re interested as well, and you’re British, click here to hear from the British Beekeepers Association how you can learn to keep little buzzers.
- Don’t use pesticides in your garden
- Create a little ‘bee fountain’ in your garden – bees are always thirsty! Use a shallow basin and place in a few rocks and then fill with water. (The rocks are so the bees can land and have a sip without getting their wings wet)
Charities to donate to:
There are a tonne of other organisations to donate to so I’ll link you to a compiled list of another 11 here.
I’m sorry if you’re not interested in bees (even though you totally should be!) but I hope you’ve taken something from this post even if it’s just that male bees are kinda useless. If anything, I’d love for you to remember that bees are vegetarian and they’re just going about their business looking for plants to pollenate. They do not want to hurt you and they’re actually helping to keep you well-fed. Please don’t squash them or scream at them! They’re just beeing friendly.
(Couldn’t finish the post with no puns at all…)