Bees. More Than Just a Nuisance?
It turns out bees do a lot more than most people realize—for such small, short-lived
creatures, they do a lot of heavy lifting to keep life on Earth in balance. They make 1/3 of
our nutritious fruits and vegetables possible, and they function as a buzzing alarm system for
our planet's ecosystem.
Basically, bees are magical fuzzy little flower-hopping life-bringers.
And guess what? Bees are in trouble. But how do you get people to pay attention to the plight
of a disappearing bug? You have to get a little wild. (Well, OK, maybe a lot wild.)
So join us for an extraordinary look at life inside the hive.
BURT TALKS TO THE BEES
Meet the bees—the queen, the workers and the drones—in this wonderfully fantastic and wildly
educational series of short films created by Isabella Rossellini, actress, director and uncanny Burt impersonator.
Being at the top of the food chain is great
until there's no food in the chain.
Harbringers of Bloom
So why are these amazing little creatures in trouble? And why should we care?
Because they're Sustainers
Did you know that somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth rely on pollination to survive?
If you want to talk dollars and cents, pollinators contribute approximately
$217 Billion (with a capital B) to the global economy. And honeybees alone are responsible for between 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States.
Translation: Without the hard work of bees, modern society would not exist as it does today.
Because they're Alarmists
Because of their intimate relationship with the environment—and by extension the food we eat and the economy we rely on—bees are a perfect alarm system for our ecosystem. An integral switch in the complex system of checks and balances that only Mother Nature could devise.
And when bees start acting strange, we know that something strange is happening in our environment.
Because they're Disappearing (and so are their Habitats)
The sad truth is that, in the United States alone, honeybee populations are declining each year at rates over 30% since 2007. You may have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD, the mysterious disappearance of bees from their hives. Something is making worker bees that seem healthy one day not come back to the colony the next.
No worker bees, no pollen for the hive.
No pollen, no food for the hive.
No food, no queen.
No queen, no colony.
Why, you ask. Scientists are learning more every day, but they know honeybees are facing all kinds of threats and changes in their environment—pollution, the misuse of chemicals, disease, even changes in climate. Nearly every scientist agrees that all bees need nesting habitats and a variety of healthy flower food to thrive—and those are in short supply.
It's a real estate problem. Humans have used up all the land that once was left for the birds and the bees—we've planted crops from field edge to edge, lawns from yard to yard (no bee food there), and fancy ornamental plants where once scruffy natives used to stand.
In most agricultural settings today, bees find only one kind of food for days and weeks on end—it'd be like us having nothing to eat but green beans every day without a break. Not only would it be boring, but not very healthy.
Bees need health food from nature—native plants, the very plants that are designed to thrive in your climate, your soil, and your ecosystem. And when you plant them, wherever you plant them, bees will come. They will do their happy dance in your little habitat—whether it's in a pot or on the edges of a 10,000-acre ranch. Every piece of ground counts, and what we plant now can help provide for a more sustainable future.
Since the onset of Colony Collapse Disorder in 2007, researchers have been focused on finding its cause, and in the process, they have found not one but many bee threats—everything from parasite Varoa destructor and fungus, Nosema ceranae, to poor nutrition and foreign queens. Recently, several studies have identified sub-lethal effects associated with large doses of certain pesticides. You can read more about these studies here.
Walking the Walk (and Buzzing the Buzz)
Behaving like Bees
Burt Shavitz, the epically bearded co-founder of Burt's Bees, was a beekeeper. His bees made the wax in our first Beeswax Lip Balm.
So bees aren't just in our name. They're part of our history, our culture and our future, too.
For starters, we offer our employees a stipend to learn how to become beekeepers (just like Burt), and we get our hands in the dirt as a group to support sustainable agriculture in the community surrounding our Durham, North Carolina, headquarters.
|Urban Gardening >|
|Bee Literacy with
Teach for America >
Sourcing Commitment >
And just like the bees, we've committed ourselves and our company to The Greater Good™, a lifestyle that demands that honest, ethical and environmental thinking comes before profit.
Every day we come to work, we remember what bees have to teach us. They teach us that what we build should be beautiful and functional; that we should work together in harmony and dance! And they remind us that we should all try our dangdest to work (and play) the way nature intended. With passion and purpose.
The best way for us non-PhD-having bee-fans to help is by teaming up with the people on the front lines of research, education and policy who are trying to keep bees healthy.
Hence, our long-standing collaboration with the Pollinator Partnership. Their mission—to promote the health of bees and other pollinators with real, adoptable solutions—is something we deeply identify with.
|Hear it from Burt >|
Together in 2007, we created the Honeybee Health Improvement Project, which awards research grants to scientists delving into bee health issues—such as breeding stock, nutrition, and more.
We're also proud to support their Bee Smart™ citizen science efforts—the Pollinator Gardener App and School Garden Kit. Check out the Go Wild section of this site for tips on becoming a backyard conservationist yourself.
Reducing Pesticides in Our Environment
We’re also working with the Pollinator Partnership to help fund and proliferate their educational materials for pesticide applicators. The goal is to reduce the overall amount of pesticides in our environment by improving common application practices (i.e. knowing when to use and how to use pesticides). And we think it’s a pretty awesome step forward, considering 99% of agriculture in the U.S. uses pesticides regularly to better control yields.
Even as home and business owners, we can help. Here is the best plan—be sure you really need a pesticide before you use one. There are many farming methods and natural pest-removal techniques that can take the place of pesticides, but if you do end up choosing to use a pesticide, choose the right one and use it in the right way. To learn more, download and share this brochure.
Believe in the Backyard
Create More Wild for Bees
The simplest, most effective (and good-smelling) way to help bees is to create pollinator habitats in your community. It sounds more complicated than it actually is, so here's an easy way to remember what it means:
Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment.
With some native flower seeds, a shovel and some elbow grease, you can transform a boring patch of grass into a veritable bee sanctuary. Even a 12 in. by 12 in. square is enough to create a thriving bee habitat.
And just imagine. If each of us shares a piece of our lawn, and we add up all those little squares, we'd pretty much have our own nationwide bee sanctuary!
|Bee Smart™ Pollinator
Gardener App >
How To >
|DIY Lawn Makeover >|
Support with Your Spoon
Buy local and organic foods. Because bees need clean, healthy food and so do we. But organic agriculture is still only 1% of agriculture in the United States. If we all buy more organic foods, farmers can grow more and offer better prices. Supply and demand really works.
Be sweet to your local honey makers. Beekeepers do just that—help keep bees around. Just go to your local farmers' market and you'll find them. Plus, is anything more delicious than fresh, pure local honey?
How to Hang with Bees
And thank them while you're at it. Really, being around bees should be lovely—the
buzz in the air, the flowers! So when you invite bees into your garden, here are a few ways
to respect their boundaries.
Download and share this "No Fear of Stings" Brochure