"If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live,” said Albert Einstein.
Did the physicist predict all those years ago the precarious situation we are potentially facing in years to come? With the exception of butterflies (admired for their pretty wings), most of us simply shoo away bees and flies. But the truth is that these pollinators are the unsung heroes in native ecosystems and agricultural production, says Sheila Colla of the non-profit organization Pollinator Partnership Canada (PPC). “But in recent years, steep declines of these creatures in Canada is of concern since bees pollinate one-third of the food we eat.”
For those wondering what can be done before these declines impact our food supply, we can look to programs developed to preserve bee health. Last year, the “Wild for Bees” program—a partnership between natural personal care company Burt's Bees and PPC—raised more than $22,000 for bee conservation. Now in its second year, Wild for Bees has once again enlisted Canadian designer Jenny Bird to create a limited-edition jewelry collection.
Available starting May 2013, the “Wild for Bees” jewelry ($24.99 each) will be sold in stores including The Bay and online at www.jennybird.shopify.com and www.burtsbees.ca, with all of the proceeds going to PPC. This year, the collection consists of a bee-charm friendship bracelet and bee stud earrings. Bird used black and gold (a classic combination for the designer) and for the bracelet, she incorporated cobalt blue by braiding it into the gold-plated chain.
“We plan to surpass last year both in terms of funds raised and awareness,” says Sarah Au of Burt's Bees of the “Wild for Bees” program. “Bees aren't just part of our name, they're a part of the company's history, culture and all of our futures, too, and together with Bird, we hope to spark some change.” That change she refers to includes growing PPC's nationwide at-risk pollinator recovery initiatives with Wildlife Preservation Canada, and increasing public awareness to the plight of pollinators. “Also, the money raised will go directly to help save bees, such as the fuzzy Rusty-patched Bumblebee, from extinction,” says Colla.
And the time to act is now. "The decline we're experiencing in pollinators has already had an impact on all of our lives: Have a look the next time you're at the grocery store and you may notice that the price of honey has risen. In addition, the price for growers to rent honey bees to pollinate food crops has also risen,” says Colla.
Furthermore, “many wildflowers in nature have been found to be pollen-limited,” she says. “This means they have not received enough pollen to produce enough seeds to ensure the next generation.” A study published in journalTK in yearTK has found that spring wildflowers in particular are at risk—they're showing decreasing in pollination over time.
What you can do to help the honey bee
Grow flowers in your outdoor space, whether it's in your garden or in containers on a balcony.
Start a vegetable garden. You help the honey bee while also benefiting from fresh produce for yourself.
Limit your pesticide use. The excessive use of chemicals is one of the factors contributing to the decline in bee populations.
Support organic agriculture. Shop at farmers markets to support local growers.
Embrace bees and give them a “home.” Keen and have some outdoor space? Consider putting up a bee condo or other nesting material for these pollinators.
Spread the word about the plight of the bee. Wear your limited-edition Jenny Bird “Wild for Bees” jewelry and help raise awareness about bees and the crucial role they play in our lives. Stacked onto your wrist with the rest of your arm party, perhaps the jewelry can act as a reminder to not fear the next bee you see collecting pollen from a summer blossom. “Instead, remember that without them life as we know it would be very different,” says Sheila Colla of Pollinator Partnership Canada.
Photo Credit: (NC) Newscanada.com