the benefits of bees on our well-being and self-esteem

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Beekeeping is not just about delicious honey! Looking after busy bugs is good for the planet, can improve your mental well-being, and really boost your self-esteem. It’s time to find out what all the buzz is about

My son recently announced, quite unexpectedly, that he wanted to buy bees.

While this might be considered odd bee behavior, it fits perfectly with her dream of living a happier, less stressful existence.

The plan to live in a van with his girlfriend and two children is, for the time being at least, reduced to nothing, and the acquisition of bees is therefore the last step on the road to a more sustainable lifestyle. , healthier and better balanced.

At first I have to admit I was a bit skeptical, but my interest piqued, I decided to dig a little deeper and it seems that working with bees, or beekeeping for insiders (the word is derived from latin apis meaning bee), can really improve your mental well-being and boost self-esteem.

Human interaction with wild bees dates back 10,000 years, while beekeeping began domestically in North Africa 9,000 years ago, with pottery vessels being used as crude hives.

Fast forward to the 21st century, however, and bee numbers are rapidly declining. So much so that May 20 has been declared World Bee Day. Labeled by the United Nations, the day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the threats that human activities pose to bees.

You may have noticed that the past two years have also been a bit difficult for us humans. In fact, 48% of UK adults say the pandemic has had a negative effect on their wellbeing. Getting outside, taking a moment and truly connecting with nature has become more important than ever.

Research into exactly how interacting with nature can positively affect our mental health is ongoing, but repeated studies show that spending time in our natural surroundings can produce inner peace and boost self-esteem, helping us feel good about ourselves, and seeing the things that may trouble us in a different, more positive light. What if you could do more than that? What if you could help nature while you help yourself, how good would it do you?

But why should I care about bees? I hear you ask. Well, according to Friends of the Earth, bees help produce about a third of our food supply, provide us with half of the world’s fiber, oils and other minerals, provide food for wildlife, help us develop medicines and help prevent Soil erosion. A whole list!

Catherine Howell is co-director of CIC Barefoot Kitchen (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise based in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, which offers “plot-to-plate projects for people, places and the planet”. She is passionate about creating beautiful spaces for others to enjoy and is a strong advocate for community activism.

Catherine and her small team (which operate on a cooperative basis) deliver projects that combine the outdoors with wellness and were instrumental in the successful launch of the 2020-2021 “Buzz-in Boro” campaign.

The goal of the project was to increase the number of bees in the city and raise awareness of pollinator species and the vital role they play in food production. The company produced a beekeeper’s guide, taught basic beekeeping skills within the community, and set up several “eco hives” in prominent public spaces.

The hives are carefully designed for gentle beekeeping, made with natural materials and insulated to protect the bees from extreme temperatures. They have become a local attraction, with passers-by observing the bees’ activities, taking photos and making videos.

Buzz-in Boro builds on a legacy of successful community beekeeping projects in Middlesbrough. An earlier project, ‘Bee Friend’, funded by a National Lottery Local Food grant to Middlesbrough Environment City, taught 80 people beekeeping skills and created four new community apiaries for residents to gain hands-on experience . Bee Friend was the national winner of the “small grants” project within the framework of the National Lottery prizes.

Another bee-related project, coupled with a love of nature, set author Steve Donohoe on the road to recovery from alcohol addiction – he’s now a full-fledged beekeeper, having gone from A to bee, you might say.

Steve says: “When I started keeping bees, I wanted to get away from city life. They were on a farm near High Legh, Cheshire, about 20 minutes’ drive from my home in south Manchester. I took evening classes run by the Stockport Beekeeping Association in the winter of 2011, and by July 2012 I was a beekeeper.

“I like to think that bees helped me on my road to recovery. Family life, problems at work, credit card bills and never stopping from running were issues that tormented me.

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“Fortunately for me, spending time connected to the natural world is extremely healing. Inside a beehive is a beautiful world of wax, pollen and propolis (“bee glue”) – the sounds and smells of summer! Bees are so fascinating that you become completely immersed in their affairs. Although I tend to be an antisocial introvert, it turned out that meeting other beekeepers for a chat over a cuppa of tea was an unexpected pleasure.

Steve adds: “I currently manage about fifty colonies of bees in four apiaries. My first book, Interviews with beekeepershas been in print for two years, and my blog, The walrus and the bee, still doing well after five years. It is fair to say that bees are an integral part of my life.

For members of the bee community, it is essential to highlight the benefits that pollinators can offer us: Friends of the Earth recently launched their Bee Cause campaign which aims to raise awareness of how declining biodiversity and the abundance of bees would have a serious impact on the natural world.

Their Bee Protection Kit, which contains everything you need to help bees survive (plus a cute little bee postcard), can be purchased through their website. The kit also contains wildflower seeds so you can really spread the love.

Come on, help a bee today.

Who knows, you might get a buzz out of it!



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