The best thing about living in East London, is that you can be wondering home, and literally stumble into an intriguing little pop up world, in this case, a shop set up by artist Keggie Carew, called “The World The Way I Want It”
There were lots of things to look at in there, but one of the things that really caught my eye, was the jewellery collection made from dead insects. Not something that I would personally ever be able to wear, but they did make me think of my friend Summer Rayne Oakes, who is an insect enthusiast. I had a quick conversation with the artist about them, I was trying to find out more about where she finds the insects and why she uses them, she wasn’t very forthcoming in her replies, but it made me think that she was making a statement about the how some insects are dying at alarming rates such as the bees, and about how we should re-use everything that mother nature gives us.
“Mankind has been deeply connected to bees since we could record history – in france the first documentation of honey hunting are painted on caves dating back 6000 years ago. Bees have penetrated our religion, our politics, our art, and our literature- from Aristotle to Da Vinci to Einstein- all our great thinkers have been passionate about the bees and what they as little creatures offer us. Symbolically they represent civil society, purity in behaviour and the ultimate servants for the good of the whole community. All religions have revered the bees. Beyond that Britain was known as the land of milk and honey – our original name meant the Isle of Honey. One of the earliest alcoholic drinks- mead- was made with honey- even appearing in Beowulf. The british bee is really more of a national symbol than Big Ben.
But the precious bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. Known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), the disappearance of the bees is a global and national crisis. There are mounting fears around the world that the growing use of “neonicotinoid” pesticides, which work by poisoning the nervous system of insects, could explain why bees and other pollinating insects are in such dramatic decline in Britain, Europe and the United States, where the insecticide is widely used.
But while it is a global issue, it needs to be tackled nationally. Within England, the bee is vanishing at a far larger rate than any other country in Europe- the British honey bee population has dropped by thirty percent in recent years. Six of 25 bee species have declined in UK by at least 80% in last 50 years while 3 British bumblebee species are already extinct.
Many scientists and experts have stated with out bees there is a huge chance we can not ecologically survive- one in three mouthfuls of food depends on bee pollination. The United Nations (UN) recent report on bees states that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees- what’s more, the bees contributes some £26bn to the global economy.
We are not going to survive without the bees – we depend on their little busy buzzy life to pollinate our food- but the bees, as well as many other little crawly creatures and pollinators that are in decline are part of a larger food chain- the birds need them to survive too. Can we imagine a world without bees, butterflies and birds and flowers? Or fruit, cotton, or coffee?
The bees are vanishing because we are being naughty, blind and a little bit too greedy – the reality is if we look after them we can have our honey cake and can eat it too. ”
Bees are a vital part of our eco-system, and we need to make sure that we do all we can to protect them. You can find out how to help from the Help Save Bees website. Here is their list of 10 things that you can do:
As Sam says “Caring for the bees is about caring for ourselves… They are the symbol of all life- but they have much to teach us- about humility, community, loyalty, selflessness, cooperation and passion. They are nature’s genius.”