A 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.
Burt 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 http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7C8D198BFA7EE573&feature=plcp
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.