Today is National Honey Bee Day, August 18th. I was so happy to find out about this day, as it coincides so closely with many mid-August ancient and not-so ancient festivals honouring Goddesses. The Day originated in the U.S. and has spread rapidly through many states [see here for a list of U.S. participants in 2011] and although the awareness is not huge in Europe at this time, there are some events taking place in the UK too. See the list here.
“National Honey Bee Day was started by grassroots minded beekeepers to build community awareness of the bee industry, through education and promotion. Our commitment is to continue that philosophy. 2009 – The first National Honey Bee Day program was held August 22, 2009. What started as simple concept quickly turned into a nation wide effort. Seen as a program aimed at bee associations only, we quickly realized how many individuals were making the same impact on communities and running programs all across the country. Within a few short months, we had 41 recognized participating programs across 16 states. The first National Honey Bee Day (Also known as National Honey Bee Awareness Day) was recognized with a proclamation issued the 11th day of August, 2009 by Thomas J. Vilsek, the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States of America.”
- from the National Honey Bee Day site.
Six Things You Can Do to Help Honey Bees Right Now:
1: Plant bee friendly plants in your garden, even in a window box or pot on a balcony. Bees forage for many miles around their hives and even if you live in a city, there are far more urban beehives than there used to be. Here is a list of some plants bees love:
Annuals: Asters, Clover, Marigolds, Poppies, Sunflowers, Zinnias, Perennials: Buttercups, Clematis, Echinacea, Ivy, Foxglove, Globe Thistle, Snowdrops, Sedum Fruits and Vegetables: Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Wild Garlic Herbs: Bee Balm (Melissa) Borage, Coriander, Fennel, Lavender, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme Shrubs: Blueberry, Buddliea, Honeysuckle Trees: Alder, Hawthorn, Hazel, Linden, Maple, Mountain Ash (Rowan) Poplar, Sycamore, Willow – List from here.
Whichever species you plant, make sure that the flowers are no so complicated and blousey that the bees cannot get to the nectar; native wild trees and flowers are always best.
2: Buy hive products from local beekeepers. Find local Beekeeper’s Associations near you or find local products in Farmer’s Markets; not just honey but pollen, propolis, wax candles and comb.
3: Donate to Bee Charities. Here are a few in both the U.S. and Europe:
4: Do not use pesticides in your garden or home
Among the many wondrous things about honey bees, is the fact that they have fewer genes related to detoxifying chemicals than other insects. This fact, combined with the accumulation of pesticides in the environment, and their continued use, results in a serious problem for the bees.
While many, if not most, chemical pesticides are harmful to bees, one class, called the neonicotinoids, are particularly devastating. The neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, which means they can be applied to plant seeds and grow throughout the entire plant. Systemic pesticides are indiscriminate: insects feeding on any part of the plant will ingest the pesticide. These neonicotinoids are very effective pesticides. They act on an insect’s nervous system causing overstimulation, poisoning and death. There are three chemicals in the neonicotinoid class: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. These substances are now the most widely used pesticides in the world.
5: Buy or rent the film ‘The Vanishing of The Bees’ Just so that you can educate all around you about the plight of the honey bee.
6: Adopt a beehive. In the UK you can do this through The British Beekeeper’s Association and receive a pot of honey or honey mustard, a pack of wildflowers, bee postcards, a pocket guide book on bees and a Burt’s Bees lip balm; you can even go and visit the beehive you have adopted [see the page for locations]. For another scheme in which you get a 1/12th share in a beehive and 1 pound of honey a year from it go to: adoptahive.co.uk [it also makes a great gift].
I would love it if National Honey Bee Day could go Worldwide, what amazing awareness for bees this event would create if it were to go global. Spread the Word along with your wildflowers!