Bee Inspired 🐝
On our recent design trip to India, I visited the Jaipur literature festival. The fair was opened with morning music on the lawn from Shruthi Vishwanath - please check her out, her voice is out of this world.
Afterward, I watched a talk from Norwegian author Maja Lunde, who has written a book called The History of Bees. The dystopian book follows three generations of beekeepers, from the past, present, and future - weaving stories of their relationships with bees, to one and other, and the urgent global crisis surrounding them. It’s a story that is close to my heart, and an urgent matter that we all need to address.
As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with bees. It started when I was 5. I was running around outside with my sisters when I accidentally stepped on one - it stung me! I was pretty upset about the whole thing - finding out she died as a result of it was quite a defining moment. I had also cried to my mum about the pain in my foot from the sting. She explained that the bee had not meant to hurt me, that she was scared and was trying to protect herself.
She told me all about the Bees, how not only do they provide us with honey. They were busy pollinating plants and were responsible for much of the food I was eating. They help to provide flowers in our garden; in our park; and most the wildflower in the countryside. She told me its great when we see a Bee, and that we have to be careful not to scare them. They are a sign of a healthy environment - one in which is good for people to live in! We share the Bees’ need for natural green space, essential to providing clean air and water.
She then told me that Honey Bees and Bumblebees live together in communities, led by a Queen Bee in a magical colony. The Queen has helpers called male drones who help the queen produce offspring. And female worker Bees who gather pollen on their back legs to take back to feed the brood of new Bees. The worker Bees go from plant to plant she cross-pollinates - a significant amount of the worlds food supply depends on this. She also sucks the nectar, mixes it with enzymes in her stomach, then she stores it back at the hive in wax cells, it then evaporates into honey - they are truly spectacular.
I remember imagining this other world within the colony, and I think how cool it was that a woman was the boss, even at 5. They impressed me by how important they were to the world. Still, I think they are cool, and I can’t imagine a world without them.
So with spring looming around the corner; Bees; Maja’s book; and my childhood memory in mind. I share some ways in which we can all help to increase our bee population.
Ask the government to reduce pesticides - there are several ways in which a bee can die from pesticides. A bee dies and does not return to the hive should it come into direct contact while foraging in the fields. If this happens, it doesn’t contaminate the hive, and the colony survives. The second is more deadly - it's when the bee comes into contact and then transports it back to the hive, poisoning the rest of the colony. Another link to pesticides is CCD (colony collapse disorder) when workers bees in a colony disappear and leave the queen bee behind. Pesticides damage the bee's brain, so they are unable to find their way back to the hive. A great way to let them know is by signing a petition: https://act.friendsoftheearth.uk/act/shape-future-our-countryside.
Ask your council to introduce more flourishing green spaces - with little care, we can provide spaces that become valuable habitats for pollinators. https://act.friendsoftheearth.uk/act/ask-your-council-put-pollinators-first.
Make your home and neighbourhood greener - By making your home and neighbourhood greener, you can look forward to more wildlife and cleaner air. Also, daily contact with nature will lead you to less stress, less anxiety, and a happier you. https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bees/donate-save-britains-bees-get-your-bee-saver-kit-today.
Feed the bees -Whether you have a small patio or a large garden - growing flowers is an effective way to help bees. Bees need different plants at different times of the year. I’ve put together a little guide of what you can plant and for when 🐝
Apple trees - Bees love the pink and white blossom - who doesn't! They are masters at pollinating this plant.
Pussy Willow - Help feed queen bees establishing new colonies, by growing this small tree with cute fuzzy catkins.
Hawthorn - The white may blossom, helps solitary bees. These need our help too.
Lavender - Who doesn’t like lavender, for its purple flower and calming scent - it is also a hit with the bees. It's easy to grow and will thrive - even if you like me, are not so great at gardening.
Abeila - This pretty evergreen shrub attracts bumblebees and honey bees. I remember my grandma's garden being full of it.
Honeysuckle - It's not my favorite due to its sweet-smelling nectar, but the bees love it! And so do moths, which might keep them away from your cashmere.
Ivy - Has an important nectar source for honey bees and queen bumblebees fattening up for hibernation.
Mahonia - A hardy winter evergreen, the yellow flowers help support overwintering honey bees and bumblebees.
I hope you have a nice time planting and thanks for reading!
Bee happy 🐝