Over the last 20 to 30 years, beekeepers and farmers have noticed a sharp drop in the numbers of honeybee colonies in the UK and worldwide. This problem has a massive impact – not just for honey lovers, but for farming as a whole. Is it possible to find a solution to save our bees?
The Bee Problem
In case you’ve been too busy enjoying life to hear about the plight of the world’s bees, here it is in a nutshell: they’re disappearing. The number of bees is massively declining and their colonies are collapsing. A massive 45% of UK bees have been lost since 2010.
Declining bee colonies may not sound like a serious problem, but it will have a massive impact on agriculture as we know it. Of course, the world would also be a slightly less enjoyable place without yummy honey, but that’s not the bit we need to worry about most.
The big issue revolves around pollination.
What might look to you like carefree, leisurely buzzing around your garden is actually really hard work for the little guys. It has a massive impact on our lives too.
Almost every crop in the world, either directly or indirectly, relies on pollination from bees. Without the bees doing this work for us (for free!), farm workers would have to pollinate their crops manually.
Can you imagine the overhead this would place on all the farmers around the world? Even if we have the resources to do this, the cost of food production would surely rise astronomically.
There are a lot of theories as to why the world’s bee population is declining. From pesticides to mobile cell towers, monocultures, parasites and deforestation causing a loss of habitat. The definitive reason (or reasons) is still somewhat unknown and none of the theories has yet been proven to be the root cause.
Regardless of the underlying reason for our declining bee population, it’s imperative we find a solution fast to avoid serious knock-on effects.
Giving Bees a Helping Hand
A startup working with beekeepers in California thinks that they may have a solution to the bee problem. Bee Smart Technologies believes that the solution for saving the bees lies with new Internet of Things technologies (i.e. clever gadgets). This new technology arms beekeepers with masses of data. They can then use the data to plan and care for their bees in the most efficient way possible.
In London, organic food delivery company Abel and Cole are partnering with beehive management company, Plan Bee, in an effort to help the bee population and promote sustainable food systems. Three new beehives have been placed at Abel and Cole’s headquarters in Wimbledon. The new hives aim to help protect and grow the declining bee population.
Plan Bee help businesses increase their environmental friendliness by enabling the placement and management of honey bee hives in specifically chosen locations. Both Abel & Cole and Plan Bee believe that businesses shouldn’t care just about good food, they should truly care about the environment.
Across the UK, The Bee Cause is campaigning to raise awareness of the bee problem and encourages people and organisations to create bee-friendly spaces across the country. Make a donation to Friends of the Earth and they’ll send you a Bee Saver kit of your own to use at home.
What We Can Do at Home to Save Our Bees?
It’s unlikely that you’ll be rushing out to pre-order an integrated smart bee hive to set up in your back garden anytime soon. Especially if you live in an urban apartment or have a garden the size of a postage stamp. But there are a couple of simple things we all can do to help save our bees at home.
A simple solution is to find a small space and create a herb garden. This can be done either outside or inside on a window sill. This has the added benefit of providing you with fresh herbs for cooking! Bees are especially keen on angelica, chives, fennel, lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, marjoram and oregano.
If you’re lucky enough to have a decent sized garden, you could plant some shrubs and flowers that are bee friendly. The UK organisation Save our Bees suggests planting “cornflowers, buddleia and poppies, plus fruit trees and shrubs, rhododendron and other flowering shrubs. If you can, create a wild flower section in your garden for bees thrive on many types of commonly found wild plants.”
Just Bee drinks, a range of natural fruit drinks sweetened with British and European honey will even post you some free wildflower seeds when you send them a stamped addressed envelope – so you’ve no excuse not to give it a go!
So when you’re next enjoying a warm summer’s day in your garden, rather than stopping to smell the roses, take a moment to think about the bees.