There’s more to beekeeping than just the yummy honey! Looking after the busy insects is good for the planet, can improve your mental wellbeing, and really boost your self-esteem. It’s time to uncover what all the buzz is about
My son announced recently, quite unexpectedly, that he wanted to buy some bees.
Now, while this might be considered strange bee-haviour, it is perfectly in-tune with his dream of living a happier, and altogether less stressful existence.
Plans to live in a van with his partner and two children have, for the time being anyway, come to naught, and so acquiring some bees is the latest stop on the road to a more sustainable, healthier, and better-balanced lifestyle.
At first, I must admit, I was a little sceptical, but with my interest piqued, I decided to delve a little deeper and it seems that working with bees, or apiculture to the initiated (the word is derived from the Latin apis meaning bee), really can improve your mental wellbeing and boost self-esteem.
Human interaction with wild bees can be traced 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 declining rapidly. So much so that 20 May has been declared World Bee Day. Approved by the United Nations, the day offers an opportunity to raise awareness about the threats to bees caused by human activities.
You might have noticed that these last couple of years have been a bit difficult for us humans, too. In fact, 48% of UK adults say the pandemic has negatively affected their wellbeing. Getting outside, taking a moment, and really connecting with nature has become more important than ever.
Research into exactly how interacting with nature can positively affect our mental health is being conducted all the time, but repeated studies show that spending time in our natural surroundings can produce an inner peace and boost self-esteem, helping us to feel good about ourselves, and see things that may be troubling us in a different, more positive light. But what if you could do more than that? What if you could help nature while you were helping yourself, how good would that make you feel?
But why should I care about bees? I hear you ask. Well, according to Friends of the Earth, bees help produce around one-third of our food supply, provide us with half of the world’s fibres, oils, and other minerals, provide food for wildlife, aid us in developing medicines, and contribute to the prevention of soil erosion. Quite a list!
Catherine Howell is co-director of Barefoot Kitchen CIC (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise based in Middlesbrough, in North Yorkshire, that delivers “plot to plate projects for people, places and the planet”. She is passionate about creating beautiful spaces for others to enjoy, and is a keen advocate of community activism.
Catherine and her small team (who operate on a co-operative basis) deliver projects that link the outdoors with wellbeing, and were instrument