At the moment bees have little to eat and few places in which to nest, with a staggering 97% of the country’s flower-rich meadows having been lost in the past 60 years.
An increase in bee diseases and the effects of toxic chemicals used in farming and food production are also major contributing factors to the bee crisis. Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticides, have been repeatedly linked to harm in bees in top-ranking scientific journals. Add changing global weather patterns to the mix and the future for bees looks bleak. Arguably, so does our own…
Bees and other pollinating insects are not simply pretty creatures ornamenting the countryside: they fertilise three-quarters of the planet’s food crops. However new research reveals that honeybees are now providing just a quarter of the pollination needed in the UK, the second lowest level among 41 European countries.
While apocalyptic quotes may make headlines, the good news is that this is a man-made crisis and at present is still reversible. By taking a few simple steps, we can all make a big difference:
1. Choose bee-friendly trees and flowers to provide the nectar and pollen bees need – Borage, Marjoram, and Lavender are among those most attractive to bees. A window-box planted with Violas, Pansies, Cosmos and Alliums will not only look beautiful but help bee survival.
2. Support the drive to make farmers and landowners reduce their use of toxic sprays and make proper habitat provision for wildlife. The European Union has banned the use of three of the most toxic Neonicotinoids for at least two years.
3. Buy certified organic food, skincare and clothing wherever possible. Research from the University of Oxford has shown that the number of different pollinator species is up to 50% higher on organic farms, compared to conventional farms. Support your local bee-keepers and honey-makers.
The other good news is that in choosing natural beauty products you are already supporting the fight to preserve our countryside and our bees. We are seeing more and more brands using bee-related ingredients in their products recognising that beehives are incredible sources of natural goodness and we’re proud to be supporting those which operate sustainable practices and make a conscious effort to ‘give something back’.
Burt’s Bees for example have established The Greater Good Foundation, a charitable organization designed to protect honey bees, whilst Therapi Honey Skincare gives 5% of its profits to bee conservation projects.
A Hive of Activity
Bees produce some of the most complex and most highly revered natural ingredients known to man. Ancient texts tell how Honey was not only a precious food and medicine but also offered in sacrifice, demanded in tax, blessed, bathed in and used in ceremony. Even today, our word ‘honeymoon’ comes from the tradition of supplying newly-weds with enough honey mead for a month, ensuring happiness, health and fertility.
Honey contains the therapeutic essences of a thousand flowers in just a single drop. It is naturally antibacterial, full of antioxidants, (great for slowing down ageing) and complexion boosting; extremely moisturizing and soothing and also clarifying because it opens up pores making them easy to unclog. This miracle substance is a highly effective humectant, acting as a perfect natural moisturiser and skin conditioner. The enzymes, amino acids, minerals and nutrients that honey contains naturally purify the skin and assist with cell regeneration.
When Honey is combined with other active botanical extracts in the hands of experts such as Soil Association certified British beauty brand Therapi, it helps to keep skin looking beautifully radiant and healthy. Adding ingredients such as Orange Blossom and Lemon Myrtle together with ‘Nature’s liquid gold’ Therapi produce a skincare range that captures the beauty and power of this ancient nectar.
Wax is one of the most versatile and widely used bee products with its unique ability to add solidity to emulsified solutions, to help stabilize emulsions and to increase the water-holding capabilities of ointments and creams.
Royal Jelly is the milky secretion produced by worker bees to feed larvae destined to become queens. Discover Royal Jelly in the hands of experts such as Dr. Hauschka.
Pollen is the food of the young bee. It is considered one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods as it contains nearly all nutrients required by humans. Long ago the Greeks and Romans called natural bee pollen “the life-giving dust” or the secret “ambrosia” eaten to acquire eternal youth.
Propolis is prized for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-acne, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is a sticky resin collected by bees which they use to line and protect their hives. It’s so effective, the interior of the bee hive has been found to be safer than most operating rooms!
The health benefits of Propolis are impressive: it kills bacteria, lowers blood pressure and appears to help to build and maintain healthy bone tissue. Find it in Simply Bee’s Propolis Serum and Anti-ageing Cream and Haircare range. Trevano harnesses its benefits in its multi-purpose Propolis Ointment and Therapi use it in their Rose Otto Propolis Ultra Radiance Cream.
There can be little doubt that bees are magical creatures. If we learn to unlock the secrets of the hive and in doing so help their long-term survival then without doubt the world will be a better place.
With thanks to Therapi founder and apiarist, Tanya Hawkes, for sharing her Bee wisdom!