For all of us at Neal’s Yard Remedies, World Bee Day (20th May) is a chance to celebrate our precious pollinators and all the wonderful things they do for our ecosystem. It’s also a day for reflecting on our own role in the protection of species facing dramatic decline, as we continue our mission to help save as many bees – and their habitats – as we can.
Our Save the Bees campaign
Our Save the Bees campaign, which launched in 2011 alongside the hand cream that became the first product in our Bee Lovely collection, started with a petition taken to Downing Street calling for the ban of hazardous pesticides in farming. Although three harmful neonicotinoid pesticides were successfully banned in 2013, the work was not over. Last year, the government permitted the emergency use of a pesticide that has the ability to kill 1.25 billion bees with just one teaspoon. Considering that the UK’s population of flying insects has declined by nearly 60% in less than 20 years, the effect of this could be catastrophic.
We are now leading a coalition of 100 businesses and organisations who share our goal to transition the UK away from pesticides and towards nature-friendly alternatives in order to protect British biodiversity. As we continue to lobby the government to implement a pesticide-reduction strategy, we are encouraging anybody who would like to join our campaign to write to their local MP (visit www.standbybees.com for letter templates and more), and share the #StandByBees campaign on social media.
Protecting the shrill carder bee
We’ve always donated 3% of all sales from our Bee Lovely collection to bee-friendly charities, which has allowed us to give over £300,000 to date and helped to save over 56 million
s bees. And on World Bee Day this year, we’re doubling our donation to 6%. So when you indulge in a bee-utiful, moisture-rich bath and shower gel or hand wash made with fair trade organic honey from an ethical co-operative in Mexico, you’re helping us to save the bees at the same time.
One of the charities we work closely with is the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, which is working to protect a particular species of highly endangered bee called the shrill carder bee. As part of its shrill carder bee conservation project, which we are pleased to be able to fully fund, the trust has reported that in the last year, shrill carder bees have been identified in locations where they had been absent for several years, reducing national extinction risk. What’s more, progress has been made in factoring the preservation of shrill carder bee habitats into local biodiversity policies and local council planning work.
A final word from our Head Gardener
Fraser, Head Gardener at Peacemarsh, our beautiful eco-factory in the Dorset countryside and home to several beehives, has shared with us his top five bee facts. Happy World Bee Day!
- Bees eyes can detect a wide range of colour, but their eyes are more sensitive to the blue and ultraviolet end of the spectrum. Flowers reflect large amounts of ultraviolet light, and to a bee will be very bright. Curiously, when it comes to red, bees are totally blind.
- Bees are still busy inside the hive during the winter months, where they cluster together to keep warm as they hate the cold. The cluster is one giant ball of worker bees, all flapping their wings and moving in and out to create and conserve heat. The Queen can be found at the centre, keeping warm and spreading pheromones to keep her colony happy.
- 35 UK bee species are under threat of extinction, and all species face serious threats. The biggest single cause of bee decline is the intensification of farming. This is compounded by the increased use of pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, which is having a devastating impact on wild bees.
- 1 in 3 mouthfuls of our food depends on pollinators. Bees pollinate much of the food that makes our diets healthy and tasty – from the apple in our lunchbox, to the tomatoes on our pizza.
- Bees use the position of the sun to navigate and there is evidence of their sensitivity to the earth’s magnetic field. Bees’ eyes are also sensitive to polarised light, which penetrates through even thick cloud, so bees are able to ‘see’ the sun in poor weather.