Did you know that the Kingdom of Bhutan, a nation that rarely hits the headlines, has a Gross National Happiness program? His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo (I promise, I did not make that up) has proclaimed
“Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”
Bhutan sounds like my kind of place! But what has that got to do with bees? All will be revealed. Meanwhile, here are some figures that make for less happy news:
Loss of commercial honeybees in the UK since 2010 – 53%
Loss of wild honeybees in the UK since 2010 – 52%
Loss of solitary bees in the UK since 2010 – nearly extinct
Loss of bumblebees in the UK since 2010 – unknown
Loss of commercial honeybees in Europe since 1985 – 45%
Loss of commercial honeybees in the US in 2008 since 1947 60%
That all mounts up to very bad news for bees. What is true for bees is true for butterflies and other insects too. Which sounds alarm bells loud enough to warn us that the natural environment is ailing, in the UK, in Europe and in the USA, and urgent action is needed to restore health to nature and save our threatened food security.
It’s a complex problem but it is possible to identify three of the main factors in the frightening decline of bee populations:
- The widespread use of pesticides, especially neonicotinoids
- In the US, the practice of trucking bees around the country to pollinate crops
- Industrial, and in particular monoculture, farming
All three are linked, of course. Neonics were covered in my last post, so on to:-
I think it may have been in 2006, when CCD (colony collapse disorder) made its debut in news editors’ vocabulary of acronyms, that I first heard about the practice of trucking hives of honeybees around America. I could scarcely believe what I was hearing. It sounded insane. Yet it was and still is big business. Hackenberg Apiaries, for instance, trucks 3,000 hives the length and breadth of the country each year. Scientific American gives us a neat summary of how bee-trucking works:
So, short of emigrating to Bhutan, what can we do to make our own personal contribution to bring back the bees?
Here is my own Gross Bee Happiness program
(I promise, every single step is easy to do and, apart from the first which is longer term, can be done in the blink of an eye, and a few taps on the smartphone or laptop keys)
- Sign the Let’s Eat Better Together Pledge and help save bees with every mouthful. “To protect our bees, we need to change what we eat. It’s simple: less meat, less junk, and more plants” Friends of the Earth
- Add your name to the Greepeace campaign – sign here
- Stop Bayer suing the EU for saving the bees – sign here
- Buy organic – “Consumers can rest assured that every time they purchase an organic product, they are supporting pollinator health,” says Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs, the Organic Center
- Make our own bee hotel – the five star luxury of the Grand Beedapest is NOT required! Friends of the Earth 4-step instuctions here and video here
- Join the Grow Wild campaign, an initiative to cover the UK with native wild flowers for the butterflies and bees. Order your free pollinator-friendly wild flower seeds here. “Any space can be transformed – from balconies to old boots, streets to shared spaces, boxes to buckets. Anyone can sow and grow wild flowers – it’s quick, easy and fun” and “small actions lead to big changes,” say organisers the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
- US residents sign the Pollinator Protection Pledge. If you have a garden in the United States, it will also be automatically added to the National Pollinator Garden Network – a part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
- Greenpeace email to US Senators to support Pollinator Recovery Act – sign here
The bees will thank us!
Very short video of amazing artwork at Kew inspired by bees!
6th December 2016 General Mills Gives $4 Million to Increase Bee Habitat by 100,000 Acres in the Next 5 Years – One Green Planet