Think of summer, tall grass, a game of tag and you as a kid… getting so exhausted with speed and excitement that you give in to lying in the grass to catch your breath, only to discover a whole world beyond your own?
Wildflowers, buzzing, chirping and wings hovering over your head as you stare into the sky… The buzzing sound calms the mind as much as it makes it curious. Pollen-heavy flowers swaying as equally pollen-heavy bees and bumblebees land on them in search of nectar.
It’s a world we tend to forget about. We’re rushed, there’s appointments, meals to be made, children to mind, but the world that supports ours keeps on buzzing regardless. Bees are, like many other insects, fascinating in their complexity but unlike other any other insects, vital in how they serve the world.
Ever wondered how they do it all? Let’s face it, being in charge of pollinating just about 75 percent of our insect crops is no easy feat.
Some scout for food, relaying the message containing the information about the location of the pollen booty through a dance we have yet to understand, others guard the hive, or clean it of debris and dead bees and, of course, they all take part in building the honeycombs.
If the wise men teach about the perils of perfection, bees come as close as can be to achieve it, bee style. Mathematicians dedicated a few centuries to trying to figure out the regular hexagonal pattern that bees fill so diligently with honey.
It’s one of the most economical designs nature has created.
Bees’ by-products are the gifts they give beyond pollinating. Propolis (their beehive glue) can fight bacteria, fungi and viruses. Unpasteurized honey is gaining more and more recognition in treatments of severe burns, and – well, let’s just say that humans have yet to understand what the buzz is about.
In the world of omnipotent computers that come in smaller and smaller sizes, there is a complex machinery that can figure out the shortest distance between various pollen-loaded targets, it can design and build structures that are mathematical wonders and it can communicate with its peers with precision and clarity.
Yes, it’s the bee.
With such complex and finely tuned nervous systems, it is no wonder that modern day agriculture can make them lose their bearings. Literally. A group of widely used pesticides called neonicotinoids has been shown to affect bees and other insects, as well as earthworms and even small vertebrates. Bees in particular, have been shown to have trouble remembering food source location and even the entrance to their beehives. Their immune system is also affected, which leads to colony collapse and an inability to survive the cold months.
Can something be done? As always, the answer is yes. Helping bees may just be one of the most endearing mission we’ve embarked on, globally. They help us live by pollinating our crops and more, we help them live by refraining from using chemicals that can affect them.
Here are some of the things you can do to help:
- Create awareness in your circles about the effects of pesticides. The more we know, the more motivated to act and find solutions.
- Stop using any chemicals in your garden but rather stick to xeriscaping (whatever grows naturally in your area) while encouraging beneficial insects such as bees, bumblebees and butterflies to visit your territory by planting colorful flowers and fruit trees.
- For your own health and the world around, including bees, stick to clean, organically grown local crops.
- Support businesses who work to help protect bees. Proceeds from bambu’s bee themed products go to Oregon State University’s Honey Bee Research Lab.
And while you’re at it, why not find some tall grass to lie in, close your eyes and listen to the continuous buzzing sounds that are, aside from fascinating and calming, an indication that we still have time to act.
So let’s do it!
...and a recent tweet from one of our readers. Thanks Cindy!
@bambuhome great informative article! I try to do my part with my 700 organic apple trees. I so appreciate bees. :)— Cindy Williams (@cinfullwill) July 2, 2014
Daniela Ginta, MSc lives and writes in Kamloops, BC, after many years spent on the West Coast. She writes mostly on environmental and social issues, and occasionally shares insights into her life as a mother of two young sons to whom she wants to give two things: common sense and a social conscience. Daniela has written for many local and national publications, and has no fear when it comes to discussing big uncomfortable environment or society-related topics. You can visit her at www.thinkofclouds.com and www.danielaginta.com, or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.