SEVEN yellow-faced bee species that are native to Hawaii now have to be protected under the Endangered Species Act after the US Fish and Wildlife Service concluded they’re under serious threat because of habitat loss, pesticides, wildfires, and loss of genetic diversity.
Putting the bees on the endangered list allows authorities to get funding for protection and recovery programs, which is great. But here’s some things you can do on a grassroots level with your kids to help protect the bees.
Don’t freak out and kill bees.
This may seem obvious but I’ve seen way too many parents harp on their kids about how nature needs to be cared for, etc. two seconds before they scream and stomp a poor daddy-longlegs spider to smithereens. Some parents feel even more justified by killing any bee they come into contact with because they are ‘saving’ their child from a possible sting.
If your child is deathly allergic to bees, your fear is understandable. If your child is not deathly allergic to bees, chill out, set a good example, and leave the bee alone.
Instead of swatting bees, teach your kids how freaking magical they are.
A few fun facts coming at you:
- Honey bees communicate with one another about where the good food sources are by doing an excited waggle-dance.
- It would only take one ounce of honey to fuel a bee flight around the world.
- Their sense of smell is so precise (they have 170 odor detectors) that they can tell whether a flower has pollen or nectar on it from a bunch of feet away.
- When aging bees do jobs usually done by younger bees, their brain actually stops aging – how cool is that?
- Researchers at the University of Illinois found that bees have distinct personalities – some are thrill-seekers and others are totally timid.
- Bee stings aren’t always something bad – they can dramatically lessen the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and scientists are looking into bee venom as a powerful way to treat HIV.
- A bee has to fly to thousands of flowers to make just one spoonful of honey.
- And, last but not least, a tireless, tiny honey bee can fly for up to six miles at a zoomy 15 miles per hour. Badass.
Support local beekeepers.
Go to your local farmer’s market and chat up who is selling raw honey – they will be your hook-up to the local beekeeping world. Let your child make a complete mess happily slurping on golden honey that is still oozing from the waxy comb. See if you can buy wax from them or their beekeeping friends and make homemade candles with your child. Check out using propolis as a gentle, effective way to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Buy some bee pollen to amp up your kid’s breakfast smoothie. Bees offer us so much more than just honey – take advantage while keeping the people who make a living taking care of the bees in business.
Care for your own hive together.
Traditional beekeeping might have you convinced that it’s an expensive, difficult hobby. A good friend of mine, the author of Belle the Honey Bee, just started top-bar style beekeeping with my kiddos and built the simple boxes in a few hours with my son for less than $20 a piece. From one box we will get over 50 pounds of honey, plenty of wax for candles and propolis for me to make medicinal tinctures, all while my kids get to see firsthand how mind-blowingly cool bee systems are. They are learning what plants bees love and are planting them nearby. They watch the bees do their bee dance.
They have seen the bee populations declining and feel empowered that they are doing what they can do to help.