Save the Bees | Lit Rituals
By Jax Dobrei and Crystal Kearns
Bees are some of nature's most unsuspecting heroes. Where other insects may make their own contributions, few are as crucial to life on Earth as bees, who are often overlooked despite the fact that they play an essential role in food production. The work that they do pollinating crops and flowers is what allows those plants to thrive. Without bees buzzing around and moving the pollen from one part of the plant to another, plants would not be able to produce seeds or fruit.
Pretty much any fruit-bearing plant needs to be pollinated, whether it be by bees or by another pollinator (such as birds, bats, or butterflies). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Honey bees alone pollinate 80 percent of all flowering plants, including more than 130 types of fruits and vegetables”. Bees helped to create the cotton in your clothes, the coffee beans in your latte, the tomatoes growing in your garden, the peanuts in your peanut butter, the wheat in your bread, and so much more. Even when it comes to meat and poultry, the plants that those animals ate were likely pollinated by bees. There are few aspects of the global food supply that bees do not have a hand in.
The pollen itself, other than being what allows plants to flower and produce fruit, also holds a lot of benefits for human health and skin. Bee pollen has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can be used in a lot of skincare products for reducing redness and sensitivity. It can even be useful in the healing/soothing of burn wounds. Bee pollen is also high in proteins and has a large concentration of nucleic acids. Nucleic acids are the genetic material within a cell, the DNA and RNA. This is what gives bee pollen it’s anti-aging properties, and why people throughout history have used it to help keep their skin looking youthful.
While bees do their duty pollinating the different plants of the world, they are also gathering nectar. Nectar is a substance that flowers produce to entice the bees to come pollinate them, and it is mostly made of water and sugars (specifically glucose, sucrose, and fructose). They then take the nectar back to the hive and use it to make honey.
Everyone knows the age old trick to curing a sore throat: eat a spoonful of honey. While that may seem silly, it’s true: natural, high quality honey contains antioxidants and trace amounts of other vitamins, amino acids, and nutrients that can ease symptoms. Typically, the darker the honey, the more antioxidants it has, and the more it can help protect your cells against any compounds that may lead to heart disease or other similar conditions. Besides that and its alternative use to sugar, honey also has many benefits to the skin. The previously mentioned nutrients and antioxidants, when used topically, keep the skin hydrated, plump, and youthful, as well as actively fighting against acne and other free radicals and problem areas.
Honey isn’t the only substance that bees make. Bees make and use beeswax to keep the honey inside the comb, as well as to keep their young separate from the rest of the hive. But humans can use it, too. Among other uses, beeswax is beneficial to the skin. Many skincare products, such as lotions or makeup primers, contain beeswax—not only is it soothing and hydrating, but it’s also a great alternative to synthetic ingredients such as petroleum. When used topically on irritated skin, you can expect an assuaging and hydrating effect. Because beeswax creates a barrier between your skin and the world, after using it on your skin, it’s important to wash it off. Professionals at Healthline say, “Removing beeswax or any products containing beeswax from your skin is extremely important to let the skin breathe. Since beeswax doesn’t dissolve in water, you may have to use an oil-based cleanser to remove it entirely from your skin”.
Bees are a vital asset to many, if not all, ecosystems, and while they do their jobs, they still do and create all of these wonderful things. But, their population is decreasing rapidly due to several factors, like climate change and the increased use of pesticides in bee-friendly plants. Climate change’s extended periods of rain as well as extreme temperatures prevent the ideal conditions that would allow a bee to fly around and pollinate flowers; bees can’t fly in rain, and hot temperatures wilt flowers that might have been able to be pollinated otherwise. Pesticides are chemicals used by farmers and gardeners to keep away bad bugs that would do damage to their plants, but in the use of these products they are also keeping away bees—and the bees that don’t stay away get sick and ultimately die.
There are ways that we can help bees thrive so that they can continue pollinating, and we can continue learning about and appreciating the goods that they in turn provide. The easiest ways to do this are to create pesticide free gardens—even small ones make a difference! Other than that, buying honey from local beekeepers and doing your part to prevent/ease climate change are the best things we can do for bees. Better yet, we can learn about them, and educate others on how amazing they are—on what they really mean in our ecosystems all around the world.