5 Everyday things that rely on bees
Make no mistake, when we say everyday things we really do mean items that most people use or consume every single day. This is not a list of vegetables like the pumpkin that we may buy once a year to carve into a lantern or exotic fruits that most people have never seen. These are things that are very much a part of our lives on a daily basis and it would make a significant impact to our lives if they were not available or became cost prohibitive due to scarcity.
In this blog we will take a walk through a typical day to show you just how different it would be if we didn't have these things in our lives.
From the moment we wake up between our cotton sheets, in our cotton nightdress, t-shirt or pyjamas, our daily reliance on bees has already started. We may then pull on our favourite cotton jeans, a cotton shirt, a cotton dress - cotton socks and pants too. You might even be wearing cotton canvas shoes and a cotton sun hat today!
It wouldn't be that unusual for someone to literally be dressed head to toe in clothing that is at least partially made of cotton on any given day. Even our beekeeper suits are made of a thick cotton canvas! If bees were to go extinct, cotton production would be impossible.
Cotton crops are also one of the worst for heavy pesticide use - a lot of which is very dangerous to bees. It's ironic that one of the everyday things we rely on bees for is also one of the dangers to them. We can help bees by choosing organic cotton products when we can. Organic cotton products use cotton that is grown without the pesticides that are the biggest risk to bees in large scale cotton production.
Daily washing and skin care products
As we stumble into the bathroom to flick a little water over our face to wake up those tired eyes, we will be surrounded by many common products that wouldn't exist without bees.
Now, more than ever, our bathroom cabinets are filled with plant-based soaps, conditioners, creams and lotions. We choose them because they are natural and friendly to the environment and our skin but in many cases this also means that a lot of the ingredients rely on bee pollination to exist. Citrus fruits, Shea-butter (and obviously honey and beeswax) don't exist without bees, to name just a few common things found in these types of products.
The flannels we use to wash our faces and towels we use to dry them are also almost always made of cotton too. As is the cotton wool and the box of cotton buds in the bathroom cabinet.
Coffee, Tea or maybe some fruit juice?
We've only just made it downstairs this morning and we can already start to appreciate the things we would be missing without our little buzzy friend's work. You might be fine with the satin sheets, polyester clothes, soap made of artificial chemicals and drying yourself off with a microfibre towel... but now it's time for our morning beverage! Tea comes from plants that are pollinated by bees, there's not really any getting around that, so no bees, no Great British cuppa to start the day.
We might be fine with a cup of coffee providing it doesn't use any of the Robusta varieties because those plants rely on bees for cross-pollination. Even then it might have to be black coffee, dairy cattle feed contains a lot of plant products which are highly reliant on bees for pollination. Without them milk would be significantly more expensive, so much so that we might not be able to afford it to use as a daily product. A popular alternative like 'almond milk' would be completely out of the question as the California almond crop requires billions of bees for pollination every year!
It's the same problem if you prefer a glass of fruit juice in the morning. Citrus fruits like Orange and Grapefruit rely on honeybees and bumble bees for pollination. Whilst some varieties of citrus are self-fertile and capable of pollinating themselves without bees, the actual yields are greatly improved by the presence of bees. Without them, the cost to produce a carton of orange juice would be significantly higher, to the point where it would be a luxury product rather than an everyday one.
It's estimated that around ½ of all oil production relies on bees for pollination; common cooking oils like sunflower and rapeseed, nut oils and many essential oils used in fragrances etc. Sunflower oil is especially useful, we find it in all sorts of foods and even in bio-fuels. Without bees pollinating these wonderful plants sunflower oil would be a very rare item indeed. It's hard to imagine a day where we don't use something without one of these oils in or eat something without plant oils in. Cooking dinner would certainly become trickier, especially for vegetarians as the only real alternative would be animal fats.
All this is enough to give you a headache and that leads us nicely on to another everyday thing many of us rely on and that's Aspirin and other prescription drugs and medicines. The trees that we make common aspirin from are pollinated by bees as are other common painkillers.
If you use any kind of herbal medicines or remedies then chances are those herbs rely on bee pollination too.
A hot lemon and honey drink has been used for centuries as a way to sooth a sore throat or cough. It's maybe obvious that we rely on bees to make honey, but we also benefit from them pollinating the lemon trees too. While it's not essential for lemon trees to be pollinated by bees (it can be done by the wind!), it's also clear that bees love the nectar from the flowers on them and they play a big part in the ease in which these crops are grown for us to enjoy. It's estimated that lemon production would fall by 80% without bee pollination.
We think you'll agree that we rely on bees at lot more than many people realise. That's why it's important that we look after them and why we'll always continue to provide free bee saving seeds to everyone who wants to help, not only our customers!