More than just your own bees
The “save the bees” mantra has been with us for a number of years. While laudable, such a statement can be used so often that the impact tends to wane, compared to the “shock value” it originally delivered. Another danger is that it can draw in new beekeepers for the wrong reasons and with the mistaken idea that simply installing a beehive is a big step towards doing his or her part to saving the bees.
But the underlying reasons for the message remain today. We are heavily reliant on bees for our food chain and life without bees would be very different. At various levels, bee (and beekeeping) advocacy organizations exist, driving an important message.
The following is a representative, though by no means exhaustive, list of some organizations promoting the cause of bees in their own ways.
The Bee Informed Partnership
The Bee Informed Partnership is a major initiative involving agricultural, academic and commercial organizations. Its mission is to drive understanding of the cause of honey bee declines in the US. The partnership has a large, multi-disciplinary scope which brings a collectively open mind to the research being conducted.
Although many established organizations are active with the Bee Informed Partnership, it places emphasis on the gathering of data from a large number of sources. To this end, it actively seeks input from thousands of individual beekeepers, through its National Management Survey. The data gathered is aggregated, analyzed and published.
Advocacy for bees can be directly about bees or focused on a dependency with which bees are themselves reliant. An example of this is Bee Better. This non-profit takes a plant-centric approach to gardens that support life – “Building better backyards for bees, birds and butterflies”.
The focus of Bee Better allows it to directly address regionally-specific plant life. Indeed, Bee Better has an intentionally narrow scope of ecoregion 231, which covers a number of southeastern states. This allows it to become authoritative on plants in that ecoregion, which is an important model bringing real context to the guidance they offer.
As an example of their focus, here is plant-specific guidance that can help beekeepers plan their gardens, for the benefit of bees.
Another example of local advocacy (remember that many such groups exist across the country) is Honey Love. This is an LA-based non-profit and an advocate for awareness of beekeeping and urban beekeeping in particular.
The group is an example of those that bring awareness through fun and creative programs. They feature workshops, a patch for bee suits, a “God Save the Queen” sticker and more.
And if you want to get attention, this works well (major kudos from PerfectBee for creativity!!!).
The Pollinator Partnership
Back to pollinators and The Pollinator Partnership is the largest such non-profit in the world. Its mission is “…the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems.”
From a beekeeping perspective, their planting guides are useful with specific guides available for a number of ecoregions.
Although not directly focused on bees, Beyond Pesticides is, as the name implies, promotes a world free of toxic pesticides (its previous name was The National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides).
A key part of their strategy is public education, not just in the dangers of toxic pesticides but also awareness of viable alternatives.
Beyond Pesticides recognizes the importance to educating and supporting beekeepers and does so through its Bee Protective Campaign. With an eye towards very practical and actionable information, the campaign produces information such as this report on specific products to avoid in the garden.
Not all advocacy organizations are nationwide and backed by academic entities or industry. Many of the more effective are small but passionate organizations such as Bee Girl.
“The Bee Girl mission is to inspire and empower communities to conserve bees and their habitat”.
Groups such as this that, collectively, play a huge role in increasing awareness of the importance of bees. They help people understand that they can make a difference in the plight of bees and their work is admirable and effective. A great example, is the work Bee Girls is doing to promote beekeeping for kids.
Local Beekeeping Groups
Of course, some of the most ardent beekeeping advocacy is carried out by beekeeping clubs and associations. Be sure to consider joining your local club and getting involved and engaged.