Bees, our food supply, and a clever supermarket campaign
A Sydney supermarket recently stripped its shelves of fruit, vegetables and even coffee, in a bid to showcase what a life without bees would look like. And it was a shock awakening for many shoppers.
Woolworths partnered with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council for the campaign, which took place at Woolworths in Sydney’s Neutral Bay. They had one goal: to make Australians think about the importance of pollination in our food supply.
Woolworths’ chief marketing officer, Andrew Hicks, elaborates on their motive; “What many people don’t realise is how much of our food supply relies directly on pollinating bees.”
If we can take anything away from the campaign, it’s that we all have a role to play in protecting our bees – and we need to act fast.
A life without bees
65% of Australia’s horticultural and agricultural crops need pollination from honeybees. Research shows that without bees, fruits and vegetables would be difficult to produce, more expensive as a consequence and ultimately, could disappear forever. In the Woolworths campaign, avocados, blackberries, pumpkin, sesame seeds, peanut butter, nuts, coffee and cereal were removed from the shelves – all food that would be under threat without bees.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are things we can do to prevent this from happening.
Plant a tree, go chemical-free or become a bee (keeper): how to help our bees
There are many small ways to help boost bee health – from planting flowers to buying local honey to saving individual bees. Here’s how you can help:
Plant bee-friendly flowers
You can find our full article on bee-friendly blooms here, but to get you started, you might want to plant some bee delicacies – lavender or clover in spring, sunflowers in summer, dandelions in winter and daisies in the cooler months. Planting bee-friendly flowers is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help bees.
Make a bee bath
It’s a tiring job foraging and collecting nectar, and bees sometimes need to stop and quench their thirst. To make a bee bath, you’ll need a shallow birdbath placed next to your bee-friendly flowers. Fill it with fresh, clean water, pebbles and stones – the bees will land on the pebbles and stones to rest and hydrate. For further advice on how to make a bee bath at home, you can refer to this helpful article by 1 million women.
Get rid of the chemicals
That includes weed-eaters, pesticides and herbicides. Synthetic products can be incredibly harmful, so going natural is a wonderful (and very easy) way to save bees. There are many simple swaps you can make – like pulling weeds out by hand or pouring boiling water on them. More information can be found in this article by Beeaware, or by Australian Geographic here.
Teach the next generation
With their little, sponge-like minds, educating our youngest people is a great way to create change and help save our bees. Amazing bees have some wonderful resources for children, but getting them involved is a great way to share knowledge, too. Let them help you plant the new flowers, create the bee bath or learn why you opt for chemical-free products around your home. You could also look into Woolworths’ ‘Bee Bonus’ programme, where up to a thousand $1000 grants will be given to young Australians for a range of environmental projects. If you’re looking for educational tools, the Woolworths website has some useful facts for kids.
Support local beekeepers
According to Bee the cure,the honey industry in Australia is under serious threat due to imported honey. The solution? Buy local honey, support your local beekeepers and encourage a regenerative bee industry. The more we can support local, organic and sustainable practices, the more our honeybees will thrive.
Rescue a tired or dying bee
If you see a tired bee around your home, you can offer it a drink of simple sugar syrup to boost its energy. Mix two tablespoons of white sugar with one tablespoon of water (no more or the bee will drown), and place the bee close to the syrup. The bee will hopefully have a little drink, enough to give it the energy to fly back to its hive. But it’s vital to remove the syrup immediately after – you don’t want it lying around. Long-term consumption may prevent bees from gathering pollen, which could be detrimental to their health. This articleexplains in more detail how to rescue a tired bee.
Become a beekeeper
Pursuing a hobby or career in beekeeping could be an excellent way to help save our bees. Our article on how to become a beekeeper covers everything you need to know to get started.
So, what’s the buzz?
There’s no denying that the Woolworths campaign was a reality check for many Australians. And to be honest, we couldn’t be happier that they’ve done it. We all have a part to play in protecting our bees and our food supply, and there are simple strategies that you can easily adopt whether you’re a veteran or very new to beekeeping. Try some of these in your home – you’ll be helping save our bees and our future food supply.
Want to know more? Read our take on the importance of honeybeeshere.