“The sound, of course, was buzzing, but the smell was completely foreign and one I couldn’t describe very easily. It was peaty or gamey or musty, or some combination of those. I imagined thousands of bees below me, crawling all over each over, making honey and beeswax and whatever else they do.” - Wilber Jansen, Painted Hives
You don't need to be an expert to become fascinated with bees. How they operate, what they produce, all the good they do for the world…they are, in a word, amazing. As Mr. Pulijn says in Painted Hives, you might find that the more you learn about bees, the more you'll understand about life itself.
Unfortunately, bee populations worldwide have experienced significant declines due to pesticide and weedkiller use, parasites, and other causes. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, beekeepers in the U.S. lost 44% of their bee colonies. The reason this decline is so concerning is that bees are vital to life as we know it: 70 of the top 100 human food crops, along with the vast majority of other plant species, are pollinated by bees. In fact, Albert Einstein himself is thought to have said that if bees disappear from the earth that humans can’t be far behind.
How can we help? We can educate ourselves, cultivate pollinator-friendly landscapes, be cautious with the pesticides we use, and become beekeepers ourselves. Here are a couple of places to start: Backyard Beekeeper, The Bee Lab, Pollinator Gardens.