“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.” Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations Report The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
More Than Sound’s collaborative photo series on Instagram, #MindfulFilter, is back from hiatus just in time to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday! The Dalai Lama only had one birthday wish – be a force for good.
But what does that mean?
According to the Join a Force for Good website,
“A force for good is not simply a phrase or a book, but a vision for the world…a world where transforming ourselves makes us better at helping others…a world where small actions can add up to a big impact…a world where #RealGood – actions that are motivated by genuine concern for others – are everywhere.”
Good deeds come in all shapes and sizes, and no act is too small. Our latest Instagram post concerns the decline of the honeybees, which would fall under embodying compassion, choosing human economics, and healing the earth. A compilation of different forces for good can be found here.
Business Insider tells us, “A world without honeybees would also mean a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.” One third of the world’s produce – from apples, limes, and mangos to zucchini and squash to celery and leeks to broccoli and kale – would disappear from the shelves should the honeybees decline continue at its current pace. A Rhode Island Whole Foods grocer imagined what the world would look like without bees, and took 237 of 453 products off their shelves. Over half of their produce department was empty! BBC also has a fantastic page loaded with infographics about bees.
Chensheng Lu, Kenneth Warchol, and Richard Callahan at Harvard’s School of Public Health have all but closed all debates about the reason for the decline of the honeybees. Unsurprisingly, sub-lethal exposure of pesticides (specifically neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, and clothianidin) and the general state of contemporary mass agriculture caused the colony collapse disorder (CCD), starting around 2005. These insecticides exist in high levels in planter exhaust materials when plants are treated.
Honeybees in both the control and neonicotinoid-treated groups functioned normally in the summer and fall, but half of the neonicotinoid-treated groups abandoned their hives and died by the end of the winter. The control colonies, in contrast, thrived and re-populated after the winter, with the exception of one that died due to infection. Their article was published in last month’s Bulletin of Insectology. In addition to pesticides, bees are also declining due to diseases, parasites, habitat loss, weather, and the stress that comes with constant transportation between orchards to pollinate.
The collapse of honeybees is apparent and impending, and we have few prevention measures set up. The Farm Bill passed in 2013 and only allocated less than $2 million a year for emergency assistance. Don’t fall into despair, though. There are plenty of things you can do in your own backyard to help.
How to Bee a Force for Good
- Plant bee friendly flowers and herbs. Spring – lilacs, lavender, sage, verbena, wisteria. Summer – mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle. Fall – fuchsia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, toadflax.
- If you’re financially capable, buy local, organic food from farms in your area. Shop at farmer’s market and local grocery stores. Get a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share.
- Buy local, raw honey.
- Learn how to become a beekeeper and look up local bee associations that offer classes with natural approaches. Morgan Freeman’s doing it, and you can too!
- Don’t use chemicals and pesticides in your lawn or garden.
- Understand the differences between wasps and honeybees. Wasps are carnivorous. They want to steal your turkey sandwich and sodas. They will sting you without hesitation because they know they won’t die. Honeybees are vegetarians, so as long as you aren’t eating pollen for lunch, chances are they aren’t interested in you. They will only sting you if they feel threatened, and will die soon after.
- They don’t want to sting you! Stay still if one is near you. If it lands on you, chances are you smell sweet or remind them of a flower! That’s sweet, if you think about. Imagine them as a weird, flying dog and let them sniff you out until they realize you’re not a flower. Then they’ll be on their way!
- If you see a bee on the ground, chances are it isn’t dead but will be soon. Gently transport it to a small saucer with sugar water so it can regain strength and continue on its way.
- Put a small basin of water outside your home with little stones and marbles to crawl on so they can drink.
- Spread this information far and wide!
It’s not just honeybees, either. Thousands upon thousands of butterflies, moths, and other types of pollinating bees are in peril. If everyone stands in solidarity with the honeybees, the powers that be will be forced to take notice and do something about CCD and the insecticides poisoning the only home we have.
Available now: Daniel Goleman’s audiobook, A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World.