Battling bee decline… how can we move beyond facts and pesticide bans to engage people with this challenge?

Let’s face it… when it comes to impressive facts the bees of this world have got it down: they’ve existed for roughly one million years, there are 90,000 miles in a kilogram of honey and seventy out of the top one hundred human crops are pollinated by bees!

There’s also been no shortage of campaigns built on the data to raise public awareness of the threat facing our bees and the crops they pollinate. Despite all the heart stirring facts to inspire the US has seen bee colony decline of 44% and in 2014-15 UK honeybee colonies declined by 14%.

The Co-operative Group’s Plan Bee was one of the first publicly visible campaigns in which they created a ten point plan to tackle the issue. Further more Friends of the Earth now conduct a crowdsourced Bee Count every May.

So what more can could we be doing? 

The past week has been a busy one when it comes to major developments in bee preservation.

First up an EU study into Neonicotinoids found them to be a high risk to the bee population. Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, said: “This report certainly strengthens the case for further restrictions on neonicotinoid use across Europe”. A total EU ban of this pesticide is now highly likely. Permission to whoop and holler granted!

There’s no doubt that government regulation plays an important part in tackling bee decline!

In Quebec a lawsuit against two on the producers of Neonicotinoids was given the go ahead to proceed to trial. This action is being taken on behalf of Quebec beekeepers who have seen decline among their bee populations as the evidence against the pesticide grows. Continually challenging the key stakeholders in industrial agriculture to reduce their impact on the environment is another important part of reducing bee decline.

So what part can the citizens of the world play in protecting the futures of our local bees?

There’s something that we all carry that I believe is more powerful than data. I’m not talking about money, though the plan that we’re brewing involves old store/credit cards destined for landfill. This plan was  devised in response to a fact and an observation:

A bee can only fly so far before running out of energy

In the urban environment it is common in the spring and summer to pass exhausted bees on the pavement. Bee Saviour Behaviour is building an active population of bee saviour citizens who will carry bee saviour kits made from reusing plastic to refuel these bees. The bee saviour kit carries a small amount of sugar solution that can be fed to be bee to revive it and send it on its way. However I don’t believe we’re going to save our local bees be hand feeding them sugar. The power is in the connection!

Creating opportunities for folk to feel connected to their local bee population and to carry stories of how they saved a bee is the powerful bit!

There is power in sowing the seed of countless stories and personal experiences shared by word of mouth and Bee Saviour Behaviour wants to prime communities to be sharing personal stories about their local bee population.

Sharing data is only part of the equation in healthy bee futures. The more we feel connected to our local bee population the more we are likely to care about preserving it.

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