With September marking National Honey Month, celebrating our American beekeepers, it’s time we had a talk about
the birds and the bees. Despite the fact that some people may be afraid of these busy, buzzing creatures (getting stung is never fun), the human race needs to show the bees some love for all they do to keep our ecosystem running. The term “busy bees” has been rightfully earned seeing as they are constantly being productive for the benefit of the people and the planet. The positive impact of bees is sweeter than honey and includes things like food production, sustainable farming, and biodiversity. Let’s take a closer look at these critical contributions.
Putting Food On Our Plates
As the world’s population continues to grow, the demand for food is steadily increasing. That means we need more options for getting the nutrition we need to be healthy and thrive. DID YOU KNOW? Bees are responsible for the pollination of nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90 percent of the world’s food!
It’s no secret that bees play a lead role in producing high quality food. The honey, royal jelly, and pollen they create serves as the foundational piece for plentiful amounts of food production. In addition to what we eat, bees are also credited for many products used in the health and wellness industry such as beeswax, propolis, and honey bee venom. For bees, it’s all in a day’s work – literally!
Keeping Farmers In Business
Plants that depend on pollination are key to the profitability of farmers – especially small, family-owned farms. When it comes to agricultural production it’s all about the MVB (most valuable bees). Managed honey bees are the most valuable pollinators in terms of agricultural economics. They increase the amount of agricultural produce, take their quality up a notch, and give plants extra protection against pests. These unbelievably efficient creatures can pollinate virtually any crop. From almonds to blueberries to squash. You name it and you can bet a bee helped bring it to fruition.
The ways in which bees impact farmers has a far reaching effect. Beyond helping to increase the bottom line for these agricultural businesses, millions of people’s livelihood is dependent on being employed by these farmers and food producers. This agricultural benefit of honey bees is estimated to be between 10 and 20 times the total value of honey and beeswax. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, bee pollination accounts for about $15 billion in added crop value. Losing that economic contribution would really sting.
Maintaining An Ecological Balance
Bees play a lead role in nature’s biodiversity and the overall balance of mother nature. In addition to making food production possible, pollination maintains the seamless functionality of our entire ecosystem. If that sounds like a big deal – that’s probably because it is! Without bees, complete animal and plant species would become nonexistent.
Another amazing thing about bees is what they tell us about the state of the environment without saying a word. Their presence, absence or quantity acts as a type of morse code, letting us know that something is happening with the environment that requires our attention. Bees are nature’s built-in warning system, giving humans a chance to make any necessary changes to keep our planet (our home) healthy.
Making An Effort To Bee Better
Sustainable Travel & Living is honoring bees during September, National Honey Month, by looking for ways to support these important insects. Want to join the movement? Here are 10 ways to save the bees. In addition, it’s important to choose wisely when purchasing products. Make a conscious effort to support sustainable brands like ahem…us! Here are a few favorites among our customers that just so happen to have beeswax in the list of ingredients:
- Plastic-free Beeswax Food Wraps , Monarch Print 3pk
- Beeswax Wrap Roll, create your own sizes
- Beeswax 7pc Assorted Wrap Set
- Organic Beeswax & Baking Soda Deodorant – Pine Scent
- Mosquito Repellent Soy & Beeswax Candle
- Bite Relief Soothing Balm
Our Favorite Fiction Read: The History of Bees
England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive—one that will give both him and his children honor and fame.
United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation.
China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him.
Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins “the past, the present, and a terrifying future in a riveting story as complex as a honeycomb” (New York Times bestselling author Bryn Greenwood) that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.
Download a copy for your e-reader from your local library or why not buy it second hand from Thrift Books.
What better way to celebrate the color and flavor honey bees bring to our diets than with some delicious DIY honey recipes. Check our these and more from the National Honey Board here!
SWEET & SPICY HONEY POPCORN
- 10 cups popped popcorn (plain – no salt, no butter) (1/3 cup unpopped kernels)
- 2 T butter
- 2 T honey
- pinch Cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
- Pop popcorn according to instructions.
- Mix honey, butter, cayenne and cinnamon, heating in microwave in increments of 20 seconds until just combined.
- While popcorn is still hot, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle honey mixture on top.
- Toss, making sure popcorn is coated.
- Serve immediately.
HONEY STRAWBERRY LEMONADE POPSICLES
YIELD: Makes 8-10 popsicles
- 2 cups fresh strawberries washed and stemmed, 1/2 cup reserved and diced
- 1/2 cup fresh or prepared lemon juice
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- Place all ingredients except the 1/2 cup diced strawberries in a blender and mix on high until the strawberries are completely incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Divide the diced strawberries between the popsicle molds and carefully pour the strawberry lemonade mixture to the top of each mold.
- Insert the popsicle sticks in each mold and freeze until the popsicles are completely frozen.
TIP: Run warm water over the molds for just a moment for easy popsicle removal.
WATERMELON CUCUMBER SALAD WITH HONEY LIME DRESSING
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. lime zest
- 2 T honey
- 4 T lime juice
- 4 cups watermelon, cubed
- 1 English cucumber, sliced and quartered
- 1/3 cup fresh mint, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup feta crumbled
- sea salt to taste (optional)
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, zest, honey and lime juice.
- Put the cubed watermelon, cucumber and fresh mint into a medium bowl and gently toss.
- Drizzle dressing over watermelon and then top with crumbled feta. Add sea salt to taste, if desired.