For the Love of Bees

Growing up, my dad taught me not to fear honeybees or bumblebees-- something he learned as a beekeeper who frequently visited his hives without gloves, suit, or hat. I remember him finding bees, spiders, daddy-longlegs, and all kinds of critters in the yard and holding them for me to see. I was exposed to many of nature’s hidden creatures this way --up close -- before he returned them to go about their business.


It was always slightly odd to encounter someone who was less than calm when a bee came around. When I was a kid, my dad (whose teachings were the truth as far as I was concerned) had taught me to love and appreciate these little critters, and it confused me that not everyone viewed them in this manner. As I grew up, I began to realize that my experience was unique and that not everyone around me was taught to not swat at (or lose their cool with) flying visitors.

Ever heard the saying, “You’re not afraid of heights, you’re afraid of falling”?  Not so surprisingly, people are afraid of bees because they sting, forgetting that bees don’t want to sting you; but if you threaten them or their hive it will inspire them to do the thing for which they are feared -- sting.

Bees look for food, often around humans, and our lives briefly overlap. When they’re done searching for food, they leave. Bees do not regard terrorizing humans as a priority. You simply are an accessory in their world, not the focus. I’m sure most of them don’t even notice us until we make ourselves noticeable.

Later on, when I had to pick a topic for my senior thesis at Washington College, my dad suggested I do something with bees. And so, my thesis topic became “Honeybees and Colony Collapse Disorder”. My appreciation for pollinators grew as I spent months and months creating my 32-page, thoroughly-researched masterpiece.

I learned just how important bees are. Pollination is essential to our world, and most notably, our food system. Without honeybees to pollinate our crops, there would be a drastic impact on our food system, potentially collapsing the system completely; this would include feed for livestock, crops for direct harvest, crops for raw materials, and other resources. Our favorites, like almonds and avocados, would cease to exist without them. It also opened my eyes to the crisis our bees, and all our pollinators, are facing, and that we are the culprit for their decline.

So, here’s your friendly reminder to appreciate those little bugs a little more as we go into spring and they become more active with the warmer air.

It should be noted that I love bees as much as I love puppies ... or fresh cut flowers ... but I know not everyone will hold them as dearly. So, appreciate them from afar, help them on their way with some sugar water on a spoon if you see them tired and hungry on the sidewalk, plant native flowering plants in your garden to reduce the space they need to fly from food source to food source, buy organic foods whenever possible, and in general spread this gratitude to your friends who might be the ones to drop their soda cans and run away from bees.

Bees are incredible, and we need them. Spread the bee love.

Outreach Extern
Class of 2017

Tune in on May 10th on the moderated discussion for a classroom series all about bees!