The Bee Collective
Bee conservation has become increasingly mainstream over the last decade, and though many of us feel like we know that bees are important, it seems like we often aren’t totally clear on why. £1 of every bunch of flowers we sell goes to the Bee Collective, a London charity that supports honey bees. We thought it worth writing down why we do that, and explaining a little bit about why we feel it’s important to support these amazing creatures.
Most people are aware that bees pollinate flowers, fruit and vegetables. However what we may not necessarily appreciate is the extent to which they do this. Around a third of the food we eat and 90% of wild plants are pollinated by honey bees. This pollination isn’t just of rare crops in idyllic allotments and wildflower meadows. Many British readers will have seen a recent episode of QI in which Sandy Toksvig pointed out that the vast majority of avocados are not vegan, since their farming requires the relocation of millions of honey bees to new areas to pollinate these (and many other) crops. Bees pollinate most of the grains that dairy cows are fed, as well as the broccoli in our soup and the almonds in our marzipan.
Though the UK has 25 native species of bee they have spent a sustained period in decline due to destruction of their natural habitat. Three native species are already extinct, two are critically endangered and many more are seriously declining in numbers.
There are a lot of different ways to give money to charity but when we started this business we thought is was essential to do so in a way that was directly relevant to our business. We sell cut flowers. Flowers are dependent on pollinators. If we’re going to sell something that is grown to be cut then grown again we want to make sure that we are contributing to the health of the wider flower population, which is where the Bee Collective come in.
Why the Bee Collective?
The purpose of the Bee Collective is to improve London’s landscape for honey bees and wild pollinators. They do this by helping to feed bees through natural design, such as the “B-Line” which is a path through London running from North to South that contains bee habitats and pollinator hotspots.
They also support urban beekeeping, offering advice for beekeepers so that they can make the best of the hives they do have and the facilities for those with hives in London to extract their honey using modern, efficient techniques rather than the laborious process of extracting it by hand. All they ask for in return is 10% of the honey crop for them to keep and sell on to support more work. As a result of these donations their workshop is full of pots of honey labelled from the various London postcodes which we can testify have a remarkably noticeable difference in taste! Unexpectedly London honey is particularly good due to the diversity of cultivated plants and flowers in the city, not to mention the proportionately large area of the city (40%) given over to green space.
How can I get involved?
The Bee Collective is run entirely by volunteers. By chipping in you’ll be able to experience honey extraction first hand as well as helping out with a hands on, worthwhile cause. They’re also always on the lookout for bits and bobs to help the place run smoothly from printers to radios. You can find out more here.