I’m guessing that most of you have heard that bees are disappearing. It was in the media quite a bit for a while, though the journalists seem to have moved onto other stories now. Anyone would think the problem had been resolved. It hasn’t.
There isn’t one clear culprit for the decline in bees – there are several. Pesticides, viruses, loss of wildflowers, the Varroa mite – they’re all playing a part in harming bees.
So why does it matter so much? Well, bees pollinate a third of our food. To do their job by hand would cost billions, so without bees a lot of the food that we take for granted – apples, strawberries, green beans etc – could become luxury items.
Of course it’s not just agriculture that depends on bees. Many wildflowers and plants rely on bees and other pollinators in order to reproduce.
So what can we do? Well, for a start, there are lots of ways you can help bees in your garden. I wrote about this very subject back in July, so do take a look. You can also find plenty more gardening tips in Friends of the Earth’s Bee Saver Kit.
Wildflower meadows are vital for bees, but all too many have become victim to building work over the last few decades. You could work with other people in your community to plant new wildflower areas, by schools, playing fields, community centres – anywhere there’s a bit of space really. You can even get free seeds and advice from Friends of the Earth to help you.
You can also help to support beekeepers by adopting a beehive through the British Beekeeping Association. You get a few goodies in return, including a jar of honey. It costs £30 and you can choose the area of the UK. So, for example, you could support a bee farm in the Usk Valley in Wales, or a community apiary in the East of England.
Or how about giving someone the chance to earn a living in Africa, by buying them a beehive? There’s a lovely story on the Farm Africa website about a woman called Marietta who supports her family through beekeeping.
You could also volunteer your services to the British Beekeeping Association; donate towards research into the Varroa mite; and campaign for a permanent ban on certain bee-killing pesticides.
Of course, just supporting brands that keep bees is a help. I started beekeeping to treat my daughter’s hayfever, and now use beeswax in many of my beauty products. So by choosing my hand cream, for example, you’re contributing towards the upkeep of my hives.
Any more bee-saving tips to share? I’d love to hear them. Tweet me @NaryndaSkincare.