National Honey Bee Day 2021
It's National Honey Bee Day!
There’s a lot happening in the world right now. From a pandemic to extreme spikes of weather, it sure feels like the world as we know it has left the room. With everything we’ve got on our hands as global citizens these days, there's one bumbling issue that the survival of our planet, ecosystems, and the human race itself depend on: the conservation of bees. What better day to learn more about these magical little creatures than on National Honey Bee Day?
Bees do wonderful things for us, including pollinating about 80% of our planet and consequently about ⅓ of the food we eat. A single colony is powerful enough to pollinate about 300 million flowers in a single day. Not to mention, they bring in about $10-15 billion for U.S. economy. That's a lot of green.
For perspective, here's a photo via Whole Foods that shows what our produce sections would look like without bees:
The magic happens when they go searching for nectar. When they crawl down to the flower's nectar supply at the base of its petals, they naturally collect pollen with their fuzzy bodies along the way. As they buzz along from flower to flower, the pollen is transferred and the flowers are happily on their way to reproducing.
We like to think it goes a little something like this:
The Bad News: Honey Has A Dark Side
The rise of urbanization and monoculture farming has lead to habitat destruction for wild bees; less green spaces means less flowers and thus, less nectar to consume. Sadly, it turns out honey bees may be contributing to the problem.
Honey bees were imported by European colonists around 400 years ago as a livestock animal, used for creating honey and for pollinating crops. While they help pollinate many of our crops and produce a delicious sweetener enjoyed throughout the world, it seems that the farming of bees for honey has lead to competition with native bees for the shrinking supply of nectar. Honey bees also contribute to the pollination of invasive species in many areas, which has lead to further destruction to native ecosystems.
It turns out, supporting the honey-making industry isn’t bringing about the type of conservation we may have thought it did.
Before we started looking into it more, we were under the impression that supporting the local beekeeper by purchasing more locally-made honey and beeswax-based products was contributing to the conservation efforts. Little did we know, it could actually be contributing to the problem.
The Good News: You Can Help!
We certainly aren’t out to tear the honey bee down on its official day of celebration, but we do believe in educating ourselves and our community to become better global citizens. Here are a few actions we can take as individuals to help out our native bee friends:
- Plant a pollinator garden - in your garden, on street corners, along roads and highway! Some tips from the US Forest Service include:
- Plant flowering plants that are native to your local area - they’re long time buddies with the native plant species in your region! You can find a guide to planting in your ecoregion here.
- Plant a variety of plants so that your garden is always in bloom and ready to pollinate, no matter the time of year.
- Plant blue and yellow flowers when possible. Fun fact: Bees can't see the color red!
- Bees like to pollinate one type of flower at a time, so try planting in groups.
- Avoid using pesticides and chemicals, as they can contaminate the pollen and nectar. Instead, try organic pest deterrents like ladybugs, a great natural option that are often used in growing cannabis outdoors!
- Get involved in local and federal policy. Support your elected officials advocating for policies that advance ecological agriculture systems, preserve wild habitats, restore soil nutrients, protect soil loss from wind and water erosion, and prohibit harmful pesticides, pollutants, and chemical fertilizers.
- Be mindful of the honey you consume. If you are going to consume it on a regular basis, try to buy it locally and organically, and consider planting wildflowers on a regular basis to support the native bees in your area.
- Reduce your impact on the climate by using less resources.
And don't forget to check out some of our in-stock products that celebrate our favorite pollinators - we donate 5% of each bee-themed purchase to Greenpeace’s Save The Bees project!