To bee or not to be

Photo by Meggyn Pomerleau on Unsplash

What’s all the buzz about?

Summer has come, and for some, this can be synonymous with being chased by wasps. Beyond revealing the stoic calm or the deafening screams of friends, the vital importance of pollinators is well worth exploring.

Through the pollination that they facilitate, bees play a crucial role in feeding the world and preserving biodiversity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 35% of the world’s agricultural land is affected by bees, while nearly 75% of crop species depend on bees and other pollinators.

From an economic point of view, the global value of crops that rely on pollinators amounts to up to $577 billion every year. Pollinators will play a key role in feeding a growing population and addressing world hunger as efficient pollination management can increase crop yields by 25%.

When reality becomes a buzzkill

If the scale of these numbers is dizzying to you, one thing remains certain; protecting pollinators will be crucial for both people and the planet. However, the past decades have seen declines in bee colonies, with the United States and Europe seeing up to 30% of losses in hives.

While there are more than 20,000 species of bees, extinction rates of pollinators are currently up to 1000 times higher than expected due to human impact:

  • Pesticides: Applied to crops, these chemicals are toxic to bees, can impair their reproduction and reduce their sources of nutrition.
  • Habitat losses: Land change use, deforestation, and industrialization are clearing biodiversity on which bees rely. This can lead to the collapse of entire colonies.
  • Climate change: Rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns distort the synchrony between flowering plants and pollinator availability. Additionally, it can give rise to new diseases and pests harming bees.

Pollen and pushing for positive change

Given their vital importance, how can we protect bees and pollinators if we are to support people and the planet?

As individuals:

  1. Purchase honey from local beekeepers with strong environmental accreditations
  2. Reduce the use of synthetic fertilizer, herbicide and pesticides in gardens and green areas
  3. Get involved with organizations supporting pollinators and the protection of their habitats

As companies:

  1. Build green walls and roofs which can become feeding grounds for pollinators
  2. Influence your supply chain to implement sustainable agricultural practices, such as reducing pesticide usage
  3. Partner with NGOs and local authorities protecting biodiversity to ensure that these principles are incorporated in the firm’s actions

Bee the change that you want to see

Until it’s been done, it can be hard to envision how positive change can be implemented. In the context of protecting pollinators, Flow Hive is leading the way.

Flow Hive was launched in 2015 by the Australian father-son team, Stuart and Cedar Anderson, with a mission to have a regenerative impact on the planet by protecting and celebrating the vital importance of pollinators.

Their crowdfunding campaign was record-breaking. Initially targeting $70,000, an amount that was reached in 7 minutes, they managed to raise $12.4 million in 30 days!

Coming from a family of beekeepers, they wanted to minimize the stress on bees when honey was harvested. That is why they built a hive from which you can extract honey on tap, removing the need for processing equipment and ensuring that bees are not crushed when honey is extracted.

As a Certified B Corporation, Flow Hive always strives to improve its social and environmental performance. That is why alongside 500 B Corps, they are committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.

From a manufacturing point of view, the company aims to minimize its environmental impact by sustainably sourcing timber for its hives. Beyond the remits of the organization, Flow Hive is working to scale its impact.

They have created online courses to support beekeepers and promote best practices to protect pollinators. They have also donated nearly half a million dollars to support projects focusing on reforestation, afforestation and habitat protection.

Flow Hive is a perfect example of how companies should approach sustainability; have a strong mission, minimize the environmental impact, bring people on the journey by educating them and create ripple effects of positive action. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Pierre-Louis Godin

Pierre-Louis Godin

67 Followers

Always looking to learn more about environmental sustainability and climate change. I'll mostly be writing about these topics!