There’s a reason why Gucci and Dior have bees on their logos, even though they don’t sell honey. The insects are a key part of our eco system, and their hives were once part of a luxury economy through ancient Egypt and Greece. Cleopatra’s version of a status bag? It was a beehive.
But even before bees and honey became elite currency in the ancient world, bees held incredible value in our ecosystem, and of course, they still do. Bees are what we call pollinators, and their fuzzy bodies transport plant pollen from flower to flower as they buzz around sucking nectar through blossoms. (They do it with long, hollow tongues that easily harvest liquid from the buds.) Through their pollen deposit, 75% of leading global crops are “fed” by bees, along with 90% of the wildflowers and bushes that contribute food, soil stability, and root water storage to their local ecosystems. Without bees, we’d have less fertile land, more carbon in the atmosphere, and a food shortage, too.
That’s a tough truth when we consider the fact that bees are having a hard time right now. We lose 30% of the bee population each year due to deforestation, rising temperatures, and pesticides, which means protecting their habitats and supporting beekeepers is crucial. A great place to start is buying local honey, which cuts down on emissions from transportation and puts $$$ back into nearby farmland. If you have a backyard or front lawn, plant “bee friendly” flowers like primrose and marigold, and resist the urge to mow down “weeds” like clover, a favorite bee snack.
What if you’re scared of bees? Look, we get it. Bee stings from childhood really hurt, My Girl was a very traumatizing movie, and these insects do seem like they might come from an alien planet. (Besides their Boba Straw tongues, they also have five eyes and feet that can “smell” the scent of their own hive mates!)
But instead of killing a bee when you see it in your house, try to open a window and gently usher it outside. You can also try to remember that bees do not want to sting you—in fact, many bees die when they deploy venom, so they only sting as a last resort.
If a bee lands on you, don’t freak out. It's just exploring and making sure you're not a flower. (Awww!) Also, don't swat it, as that may make it panic. Instead, take a piece of paper or even a credit card and "swipe" them gently off your skin and away from your body. You can also take a deep breath and faintly blow on the bee. Giving them a gentle puff of air will tell them it’s time to move on, and help you stay calm in the moment. Like enjoying local honey in your tea, it’s a win-win for the planet and for your personal buzz.