Posted on October 28 2018
In our new series of hand-drawn silk scarfs, each scarf illustrates one of the predominant ecologic issues in the world - whether it is the extinction of bees or the production of palm oil.
Fashion is a skilful way to raise awareness for important causes in the world.
However, we don’t want to stop by raising awareness only.
It is important that we are not just aware of the things that are going on on our planet, but that we feel empowered and capable to do something about them as well.
Hence, in this blog post, we will give you actionable solutions that each of us can implement on an individual level to bring about grassroots change in the world.
The Bees Scarf
The first of the scarfs in this series demonstrates the problem of the bees on the planet going extinct.
One-third of our global food supply is pollinated by bees. They keep plants and crop alive.
If bees extinct, most of the blossoms will not pollinate, which means that a fruit will not form.
And humans won’t have very much to eat.
If the bees die, it won’t be long until the humans die.
In our scarf design, a bumble bee is nested in chrysanthemums, the flowers that symbolize death.
And while precious pearls and Indian jewellery reflects on how valuable bees are in our world, if nothing happens, soon they will be an extinct creature, like the Dodo.
But only, if nothing happens.
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Causes of the Impending Extinction of the Bees
There is one main reason for the extinction of bees:
This is the disruption and destruction of the living ecoystem in which bees can live.
This disruption is both manmade as well as caused by nature.
A natural ecosystem is a carefully selected mix of living organisms that live together in harmony. That which is needed by one species is provided by another. The remains of one species are taking care of by another. The presence of various species is regulated not just by the climate and food that is present, but also by the number of predators and other species.
The result is a balance between all the different forces as well as continuous movement to establish that balance.
The focus on industrial agriculture as a means to provide food and nutrition to the people on the planet has resulted in massive landscapes that are filled with fields that are planted with monocultures only.
Farmers focus on a certain variety of crops only, and the chosen field for that crop is carefully raided of all other “weeds” and plants so that the main crop can reap most of the nutrients out of the soil.
However, it has proven that this theory on farming has more weaknesses than it has benefits.
Draining the Soil of Nutrients
Because the same plant keeps extracting the same nutrients out of the soil, the soils get drained of those very nutrients and have little opportunity to replenish and recover.
This is why “fallow” times were introduced. You could say a break year. Where the farmer won’t use that field and just let it grow wild. In the hope that the soil can recover.
Another solution to this way of growing food is to change the field for different plants that use different nutrients each time.
Both are effective solutions in principle. That is for a land that has not yet fully been stripped of its nutrients and filled with chemicals.
Whatever way we look at it, each time, again there will be only one type of crop planted and the soil is again drained.
And left weaker as it was.
Destroying the Habitat for Beneficial Plants and Creatures
The fact that we constantly destroy all weeds and keep fields as neutral or mono cultivated as possible, destroys the natural habitat of all those living creatures that lived and took care of the fields before.
In addition, the cultivation of new and foreign species can impact the health of an ecosystem.
All of the above combined, in turn, destroy the ecosystem and the ability of that ecosystem to recover itself and provide the nutrients that every organism needs.
Illnesses start to develop
Once the soil is weak and there is not enough of a variety of organisms and plants to replenish the soil, as well as to keep the balance between pests and useful creatures intact, pests and parasites quickly start to develop and take over.
As they attack our crops we start looking for solutions.
The use of pesticides and pathogens
Once the outcome of our harvest is at risk because the plants don’t perform as well as we want them to, and parasites are eating away on those fruits and plants, we feel we have no other choice than to come in with a sledgehammer.
In the fear of not having enough profits or food, we introduce chemicals that take care of the pests - and seemingly of our problem.
However, what we haven’t seen is that a vicious cycle has started…
The vicious cycle
The pesticides and pathogens not only kill the parasites but the few useful creatures as well. Like our bees and other pollinators.
The soil absorbs the chemicals and gets more drained as well as poisoned. The chemicals enter our groundwater and rivers.
Because we spray pesticides, the wind carries them beyond our fields into the circumvention and causes just as much harm there as well.
The pests become immune to our chemicals, so we need to find new ones.
So the ecosystem grows even weaker. New parasites and illnesses emerge. And our plants grow weaker. Until we need to introduce genetic solutions to save our crops.
The second major threat to bees is climate change.
As the weather becomes more extreme and we face a hotter climate for longer periods of time, draught destroys the flowers that provide a lot of the food for our bees.
Hotter climates also promote the growth of certain parasites and harmful insects, like mites, as well as the severity of diseases.
Mites are seen as one of the main risk factors to beehives. Nonetheless, not just draught and mites and disease are harming our bees.
Bees are physically not able to deal with warmer temperature and warmer temperature water.
A change in the climate disrupts the natural sleep and activity rhythms of bees.
The change in the rhythm puts stress on the bees. That stress alone increases mortality rates.
Being exposed to warmer temperatures literally tires bees so much that their needed time for rest and recovery multiplies by 5, while still leaving them smaller and weaker and with less interest to mate. Think Heatstroke.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Re-emerging in a time when flowers don’t grow yet results in that bees don't have enough food when they awake.
It is a tricky situation for the bees. One that may mean that they will start migrating to colder territories.
A less clearly understood issue is the CCD.
Colony Collapse Disorder occurs when worker bees leave their queen and food with just a few immature bees as well as nurse bees behind.
This phenomenon is often related to the number of hives surviving in the winter months.
However, the cause is not entirely clear.
As other factors in the disruption of bee populations, as mentioned above, come to the foreground, fewer cases of CCD are being reported.
What solutions can we implement to save the bee population?
While there are obviously plenty of solutions that we need to implement on national and industrial levels, there are solutions that you can implement - in your own homes and gardens!
10 Solutions to save the Bees in your Home:
- Ecological and Organic Farming. Let’s state the obvious first. Whether your garden is limited to a few pots in front of your window or an acre of land around your house. Make ecological gardening your priority. See Nature as a whole living system and organism. Don’t kill all the weeds. Choose plants that support each other and complement each other in their nutrient utilization. Rotate crops. Don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers. And when it comes to treating your plants, don’t just go by the calendar, but check if your plants actually need treatment. Find ecologically sustainable solutions to keep pests in check. Use organic compost and consider starting your own compost pile. Learn about the principles of permaculture.
- Plant Flowers for Bees. Reconsider a patch of your lawn and dedicate that to an area of flowers. Choose species of flowers that bees like especially and choose a combination of plants that will keep your garden in bloom all season round. Single Top flowers are easier to reach for bees and have both male and female counterparts. Choose fragrant flowers like lavender, as the scent attracts the bees. And prefer to plant purple flowers, as they are more visible to bees.
- Plant Flower Rows between fields. Rows of flowers between fields of the crop not only look beautiful and attract bees, but they also create a barrier for pests and create shelter for useful creatures.
- Collect Seeds: Make a habit of collecting the seeds once they are ready. This not only saves money. It carries over the lineage of your plant with all the genetic information. It goes without saying that you will want to start with organic seeds and want to avoid hybridized plants. If it is difficult for you to obtain seeds you can replant leftovers of organic foods like celery, lettuce, carrots, peas, tomatoes, etc. and just plant them in your garden. Yes - those foods came from a seed as well. Or go in nature or find patches of flowers in your city and when the season ends, collect their seeds there
- Install Windbreaks and retain woodland areas. Leave some wild access to your garden. This will invite birds and hedgehogs, - both of which naturally take care of pests, as they eat them. And birds are actually pollinators themselves as well!
- Plant patches of grass. Plant patches of grass between flowers, beds and fields and allow it to grow long. This will invite beetles, who again take care of pests, but it will also give shelter to bees.
- If you have space, plant fruit tree orchards. Cherry and Apple blossoms invite bees to feast. And if your climate allows for it, plant Oranges and Lemons. Their especially fragrant flowers are very much loved by bees. But bees also very much love other trees with great flowers like purple Hibiscus.
- Set up Bee Homes and Bee Baths: Choose a sunny patch in your garden and collect piles of branches, bamboo sections or hollow reads, provide a source of water and bees may find a new home in your garden! You can also set up nesting blocks, which you have to make out of untreated wood. Bees like a fresh source of clean water. If you have a pond, that is great, but you can also create a small bath. Make sure to leave solid stones in the bath or wood so that the bees can sit safely. Fill your bath with rainwater, ideally.
- Urban Farming: If you don’t have a garden, not to worry. I think that urban garden is actually crucial to the solution of creating homes for bees. You can have pots on your windowsill or in front of the entrance door or an outside parking lot. Does your house have a communal rooftop? Start planting there! And of course, you can also consider vertical farming alongside your walls.
- Communal Farming: If there are no options around your house, find out whether there are communal allotments in your area. These are small pieces of land that you can rent for a time frame and grow anything that you would like. Is there a rough scratch of land in your neighborhood? Make it nice! Are there street trees in your are? Throw some flower seeds around and let them grow! And of course, you can be in touch with your city and community to take initiative in how to make your city greener and full of flowers - a home for bees!
There are always Solutions
You see while the situation revolving around the life of bees today doesn’t look rosy, there are steps that each of us can take to support and prolong their survival.
The first step is seeing that there are options that we can implement. The second step is taking those steps.
What are you going to do to support bees in our world?
Post a picture of yourself with #farabees to Instagram and show us your solution!
About the author
Iris Zajac is a Health Coach, Business Consultant, Blogger and Artist. She helps women who are looking for wellbeing and to contribute to the world one on one, in online sessions and events.
Images by Unsplash.com