The Bumblebee Retirement Home is a retirement home for bumblebees. Flying Flowers, a flower store in the United Kingdom, created a sanctuary to shed light on declining bee populations and provide bees with a resting area. Along with Flying Flowers’ efforts to raise awareness about the declining bee population, other organizations and bee activists are attempting to aid the bee population while simultaneously fighting poverty.
Bee Retirement for Efficient Pollinators
The Bumblebee Retirement Home looks like a dollhouse and features miniature walking canes, bloom-filled rooms and a sugar-water fountain. “Retired” bees can “watch” tiny televisions and rest on comfy beds after pollinating 5,000 plants a day.
In addition to bumblebees, Flying Flowers also creates “hotels” for solitary bees, the most efficient pollinators. Solitary bees do not live in colonies; some live in snail shells and travel to find food or nests. However, with a decline in wildflowers, it is often difficult for them to find habitats. In fact, compared to honeybees and bumblebees, these solitary bees pollinate 120 times more flora.
Bee retirement homes create a safe environment for bees to live and pollinate. Flying Flowers provides detailed information on bees, their importance and how to help save bee species. Honoring bees and their dedication to pollination is the goal of Flying Flowers and many bee advocating organizations.
The Decline in Bee Species
Although about 20,000 species of bees exist globally, detailed international data indicates that there have been no sightings of around 5,000 species — a full 25% of all species — since 1990. This is significant because about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. In fact, scientists believe that bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators are responsible for one-third of the food people eat.
The Connection Between Bees and Poverty Elimination
Bees are vital to global food security, which makes their disappearance a significant issue for poverty elimination. Various circumstances including pesticides, habitat loss and disease cause the decline of pollinator species. Without pollinators, food sources will decline and bring massive consequences.
Bee deprivation is especially detrimental to developing countries because these nations “are more reliant on pollinators than [others], standing to lose [vital] income, livelihoods, nutrition and cultural traditions if pollinators decline.” Low-income areas use agriculture as their main income source. This puts people at risk of poverty when crops do not yield high-quality plants in large quantities. Not only does bee deprivation impact incomes but the lack of food crops robs millions of people of micronutrients like vitamin A and iron. For this reason, scientists say that crop loss results in “millions of years of healthy life lost.”
Bee Activists Working to Combat Poverty
Fortunately, there are organizations throughout the world promoting beekeeping, and in doing so, are fighting global poverty. For example, Bees for Development, founded in the United Kingdom, is a global charity that promotes beekeeping and biodiversity to combat poverty. It gives people in the most impoverished communities in the world a consistent income by training them into beekeepers who raise bees and sell honey. Bees for Development sends resource boxes that donors sponsor to these beekeepers. Bees for Development is only one of many organizations aiding those in poverty and bee populations.
How Individuals Can Help
Creating bumblebee retirement homes may not be realistic for many, but there are other ways to support bees, and thus, support people and the planet. People can buy or build a simple bee hotel for solitary bees using a hollow wooden tube. Helping bees can be as easy as putting a bowl of water in one’s yard, such as a bee bath. Individuals can also plant flowers with open petals because these make pollination easier for bees. Possibly the most important way to help bees is to stop the use of pesticides — the mass decline of bees partly stems from agricultural pesticide overuse. It is vital that the world acts now to protect pollinators before it is too late.
Whether it is a bumblebee retirement home or beekeeping, aiding this cause is crucial. Communities living in poverty and the environment depend on innovative ideas for improvement. Bees can be part of the solution for both poverty and a sustainable environment. To learn ways that individuals can help, visit the websites for Flying Flowers or Bees for Development.
– Anna Montgomery
Photo: With Permission from Flying Flowers