Could lockdown living, with all its fears and anxieties, have a few curious advantages? Not only is time in nature thought to improve the physical body but it is also said to help to reduce stress levels, improve overall wellbeing, sharpen focus, and encourage creativity. It could also bring a mindful approach and heightened awareness to everyday surroundings, realigning values and shifting personal priorities.
And that is just on an individual level. This disruption of routine may also have given creatures who were living in shrinking habitats throughout the world, an opportunity to thrive again. What were once rare appearance in gardens, rooftops and urban spaces, may just become more frequent occurrences in the future.
This period has potential to bring further change in our approach towards local ecosystems. For some, the confines of the house seemed to encourage green fingers and put a pause on practices that could be detrimental to insects, such as regular bush trimming and tree cutting. Some left corners of gardens to grow wild and inviting for local flora and fauna. Stunning wildflowers flourished and grew to new lengths. Our screens filled with stories that told us how reduced commutes and international air travel brought a dip in pollution levels. All encouraging news for wildlife. As nature seemed to thrive with a slower pace of life, an environmental conscience was brought to the forefront of conversation.
As we watch outdoor spaces welcome wildlife with the abundance of springtime, inspirations are in no short supply. The 20th May marks World Bee Day and the spotlight shines bright on our favourite little pollinators. When the environment calls, it is bees that come to the rescue. Now more than ever we need these small but mighty heroes to keep on buzzing.
Bees have become synonymous with honey, which not all actually produce. Their often-overlooked collaborative behaviours and sophisticated engineering skills are remarkable feats for such tiny creatures.
Bees are connected to one another in really advanced ways. No strangers to the dance floor, bees ‘waggle’ to communicate with one another. They use this dance to share the latest locations of rich supplies of pollen or even to vote on more democratic decisions, such as where to build nests. With proactive team working skills, they function collectively for the good of the hive, and can influence who will rule as queen bee.
These productive pollinators hold the key to one of nature’s fundamental processes. Pollination, the process of fertilisation by passing pollen from one plant to another, is a key process in ecosystems far and wide. This in turn plays an essential role in developing all kinds of crops from those grown for food to cotton for garments. The systems that are crucial to human existence are a part of the everyday for pollinators such as our humble bees.
An undisturbed space left to overgrow in lockdown can provide more options for bees to get to work. It is time to let that garden go untamed. And if you see a bee struggling on a cold day, offer some energy-boosting sugar water to help them on their way. How we slow down, reevaluate our lives and adopt greener practices has great potential for the world around us. All tasks, however small, combine to create a fresh new landscape and remind ourselves, even in times of struggle, that as humans our connection to even the smallest beings can help all of us to thrive.