By Allison Gratton
Honey bees are critical to our life on this planet. We rely on them to pollinate about one-third of our food crops and over 80% of all flowering plants. We harvest their honey, pollen, propolis and wax for all sorts of things ranging from food to medicine to furniture polish. Honey bees and thousands of other pollinators are the small, often overlooked workhorses of our agricultural industries, city parks and backyard gardens.
As a beekeeper and educator, I witness the magic of bees beyond the honey they make and their pollinating abilities. And so, on this World Bee Day (and every day!), I invite you to think not about what honey bees do for us, but what we can learn from them just by observation. I invite you to be filled with curiosity. And I invite you to maybe even ask yourself, “How can I be more like a honey bee?”
Here are three of my favorite facts about honey bees that invite wonder, awe and introspection. They each mirror Slow Food’s good, clean and fair mission.
A single honey bee cannot live on her own because she needs her colony to survive and thrive. Such a wonderful reminder of the goodness in collective power. We all need one another.
Honey bees live a completely generative existence, meaning they only add to the environment without taking away from or harming another being or creating unnecessary waste. Everything a honey bee colony does or makes only supports and uplifts all life.
Honey bees make decisions democratically via dance contests. Yep, you read that correctly. Through wiggles, waggles, foot stomps and spins, honey bees communicate details about a potential new home, including size, distance and even which direction it faces. They vote on the best “dance” and then fly off to their new residence as one cohesive unit. It makes you wonder how we humans could communicate in more harmonious ways with one another… 🐝💛
Allison Gratton is a beekeeper and educator intent on sharing the magic of honey bees with others. As the head beekeeper in Philadelphia for international urban beekeeping company Alvéole, she managed over 60 hives and presented educational workshops for a client list including Goldman Sachs, Swarthmore College and Tanger Outlets. After spending the last year traveling and working throughout Europe on farms, she is settling back on the East Coast and on the hunt for a springtime swarm.