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Entries in bees (2)


Burt Talks to the Bees; a three-part video.

Photo credit: cygnus921/Creative CommonsA significant amount of the plant food we eat would not be available were it not for the pollinating activities of bees. Furthermore, because they are instrumental to biodiversity, bees are what scientists call indicator species; they function as a buzzing alarm system for the health of our planet’s ecosystem.

Sadly, that alarm has been sounding for several years. Since 2006, honeybee colonies have been declining at a rate of about 30% each year. Some of that decline has been attributed to a mysterious evacuation of the hive by its workers, which eventually spells collapse for the hive, hence the name Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD.

Researchers around the world have been focused on trying to solve the mystery, but most agree there is no singular threat to explain that evacuation. Rather, bees and honeybees in particular are facing a number of challenges—pollution, exposure to chemicals, disease, parasites, poor nutrition, even changes in climate. Nevertheless, the identification of CCD has elevated public attention to the valuable role that the bee plays in supporting our agricultural system.

Most scientists agree that bees need nesting habitats and a variety of healthy flower food to thrive. Unfortunately, these are in short supply. Human activity has used up most of the land that once supported bee activity; we have planted field crops from edge to edge, lawns from yard to yard and sterile ornamental perennials and shrubs where fecund plants used to grow. In most agricultural settings today, bees find only one kind of food for days and weeks on end and that is insufficient to sustain our planet.

Photo credit: burtsbees.comBurt Shavitz, co-founder of Burt’s Bees products used to be a beekeeper. His bees made the wax in the first Beeswax Lip Balm his company produced. Because he and his firm value bee activity, they collaborate with experts (Pollinator Partnership a.k.a. P2 in U.S.) and artists to encourage us to restore our environment to a bee-friendly state. We can do this by planting wild, native flowers, by adding non-sterile varieties of perennials and shrubs to our gardens, and by simply restoring into our culture an appreciation of and a respect for bees.

As P2’s Executive Director, Laurie Davies Adams, explains, “Each of us lives in a habitat, and we have the opportunity, in fact, the responsibility, to nurture and promote healthy habitat. By sharing a bit of lawn, a schoolyard, a farm border, an office landscape or a roadside with blooming pollinator-friendly plants, we create a connection that supports healthy ecosystems and a sustainable future.  All of our actions join to build something invaluable to the very plants and pollinators that feed us.”

There are many ways to draw public attention to this issue. Unfortunately, the human brain is bombarded, on a daily basis, with a large amount of competing data, that capturing anyone's attention would require innovative action.

To meet that challenge, Burt's Bees produced three short films, all titled BURT TALKS TO THE BEES. This entertaining and educational three-part series was created by Isabella Rossellini, actor, director and Burt impersonator. In these short films, the public is introduced to the bees - the queen, the workers, and the drones - in order to become familiar and sympathetic to their plight. Rossellini’s uncanny ability to combine scientific accuracy with storytelling creates a lighthearted approach to environmentalism that piques viewers’ curiosity enough to care about bees. Click to watch the videos series at

It is hoped that, by viewing and sharing these films, enough people will come to realize the important role that bees play in our food growing cycle; and that each of us will invite bees into our outdoor spaces by growing bee-friendly plants. Together, we can create mulitple bee sanctuaries; our goal being to ensure a more sustainable future for our planet.


A Park For Pollinators

I used to think that the reduced sensibility to flower aromas in the summer air was directly related to growing older. I genuinely believed that my olfactory senses were becoming less acute with age. That is, until I came across a study, done in 2008, by the University of Virginia. Researchers there discovered that the dispersal in the air of garden fragrances have been compromised by air pollutants. Consequently, not only do we experience a weaker aroma from our flowers but also, the bees that pollinate plants are doing less work, because they are less attracted to the flowers.

In the 19th century it was determined that molecules of flower aroma could travel a distance of up to 1 Km away from a plant. Today, that distance has been reduced to 200 or 300 meters. Researchers estimate that about 90% of floral aromas disappeared with the arrival of the automobile and the exponential growth of heavy industry. Some scientists link this decrease in the intensity of aromas in the air to the decrease in the number of bumblebees that are necessary for pollination of food plants. Without the scent of the flower, the bees are not drawn to its nectar, their source of food. Without the food, they die.

In an attempt to improve the breeding of bees, the Canadian city of Guelph, Ontario has developed an innovative program to encourage the propagation of pollinating insects.. One hundred hectares of landfill has been designated as a Pollinators Park. This is the first public park anywhere in the world dedicated to attracting pollinating insects and birds. The former city dump has been transformed into a prairie, a preferred habit where pollinating insects such as bees, can flourish.