The Plight of the Bumblebee
A true Irish summer wouldn’t be complete without the subtle, slow, and gentle buzz of the bumblebee. I enjoy sitting in my garden and admiring these little, hard workers pollinating their surroundings and collecting sustenance for their growing colonies. As the summer sun begins to engulf the greenery of Ireland, I find myself reflecting on our bees, what they represent, and what we can be doing to protect them.
In ancient myth, bees represented great wisdom, and were said to act as messengers between worlds. They were also believed to embody the ancient knowledge of the druids, with many believing that when you sleep or enter a trance, your soul leaves your body in the form of a bee. In fact, bees were considered so important to early Irish society that there were dedicated bee laws designed to protect them, called “bechbretha.”
Today, the bee remains a powerful symbol for community, aliveness, and abundance. Bees represent personal power and serve as reminders of the interdependence of all life. Celebrating and exploring the interconnectedness of all living beings means protecting and advocating for the organisms we owe so much of our current existence to: the bees.
Scientifically speaking, bees are classified as a “keystone species.” This means if they all die, life on this planet would struggle to carry on. Of course, this classification makes sense when you consider all that they do for us:
- Pollinate our crops, flowers, and gardens. (Without bees, our crops would fail).
- Help to maintain the natural habit of thousands of different species.
Currently, the survival of bees faces many threats. Pesticides, loss of habitat due to rapid industrialization, and monoculture farming are all directly impacting the survival of nature’s greatest ally. The rapid global decline in bees is a direct indicator of the health of our planet, and it would seem they are desperately trying to warn us about the way we are treating our home.
Needless to say, it is in our best interest to take rapid steps in protecting their survival, not just for us, but for the sanctity of life itself. To honor the Earth and give back to the bees that work so hard to keep us going, consider some of these ways to help:
- Plant a bee-friendly garden with native and local plants, or opt to leave your garden wild and let your environment’s natural flora take hold.
- "Throwing seed bombs is a fun and gardening activity for families and communities. Seed bombing gardening projects can also be very therapeutic and rewarding. When your seed bombs sprout into beautiful flowers as explained above, the style and if my magic the seed bombs will bring colurs to a patches of bare land, and the act of giving your time to just throwing a few seed bombs around the place, always adds a sense of excitement to gardening." from Irish Seed Bomb www.seedbomb.ie
- Create a bee bath by filling a shallow bowl with clean water and arranging pebbles so they break the water’s surface. This allows bees to land on the stones to take a drink.
- Buy organic vegetables and fruits that have been raised without harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
While larger, systematic changes will need to happen for this issue to be truly addressed, we can all take extra steps now in our own lives to protect and advocate for our friendly, neighbourhood pollinators. We owe much to the bees, their power, and their reminders of interconnectedness of all life on Earth. Listening to the plight of the bees and practicing gratitude for all the ways in which the bees provide is a great place to start.