NEWS & KNOWLEDGE
Interesting things about the packaging industry, retailing dynamics, consumer trends and NOA’s insight.
Does the plight of bees mirror the plight of the planet ?
We all love bees, or at least we should. Even those of us who aren’t keen on honey should spare a few moments to appreciate these small insects that do so much for our planet.
If we didn’t have bees, where would we – pardon the pun – be? Bees are vital pollinators. No bees would mean no crops – no food for us, no food for animals.
In fact, no human activity or ingenuity can yet replace the vital work that the world’s bee population does.
So why are we talking about bees? What have they got to do with a company like NOA which works with the packaging industry, carrying out packaging market research?
Frankly, there’s no practical connection. But as a business we care about what’s happening to our environment, and that includes what’s happening to bees.
The plight of the bee
Our MD, Neil Osment, recently attended a gardening trade show at the NEC in Birmingham called Glee.
He was “wearing” his coaching hat and supporting a business he’s been involved with for some time, Wildlife World, which designs and manufactures homes, habitats and feeders for birds, insects and animals – including several different types of homes for bees.
Regular blog readers may recall Neil even went on the QVC shopping channel to help sell their products – you can read about how he got on here.
At Glee, he learnt a lot about bees and how the actions of mankind are threatening their survival and, by default, our own.
Is this yet another example of mankind riding roughshod over the environment? Plastic is firmly on the agenda – our research into packaging market trends shows efforts are being made to switch to paper-based packaging; we believe the plight of bees should be a top priority too.
Here are just some of the causes of the declining bee population:
- Pesticides can have an adverse impact on bees by reducing their breeding success and resistance to disease. Scientists have found that exposure to pesticides can impair honeybees’ ability to navigate, and even for all bees it affects the ability to reproduce in sufficient numbers.
- Scientists are starting to detect that changes in climate may be disrupting bee nesting behaviour and their emergence after winter. Climate change may also be affecting the timing of the flowering of plants that bees rely on for food.
- Changes in our land use, through intensive farming and urbanisation, are reducing the available habitat.
- The varroa mite, a tiny parasitic mite that attaches itself to a honeybee, transmits disease and saps its strength, and is having a devastating effect.
- Invasive species are having an impact. For example, in the UK the Asian hornet is damaging the honeybee population. The hornets feed by hovering in front of bee hives. They intercept returning bees, bite their heads off and then eat the rest!
All bees are being affected, from honeybees that live in colonies, to solitary bees. All are important pollinators and all need to be protected.
In fact, did you know that there are two groups of bees? Ones that act as an entity and are described as ‘swarming bees’ and whose lives are dedicated to, and orientated around, the Queen. The other type are ‘solitary bees’, who live in a community and go about their business (or is that ‘buzzy-ness’?!) much more on their own.
What other differences are there between swarming bees and solitary bees?
Swarming bees produce honey, they sting (to protect their honey) and they are pollinators. Solitary bees don’t produce honey, they don’t sting (they have no honey to protect) and they too are pollinators. Solitary bees are also 80% better pollinators than swarming bees. We have every reason to love solitary bees!
Here’s a fun fact: in the UK alone there are 267 species of bees and more than 90% are solitary bees.
Without pollination then most of our plants and trees would not be fertilised and so not reproduce and we would not get most of our food stuffs. As a BBC programme with Bill Turnbull a few years ago demonstrated, without bees we would just be eating dry bread and drinking water.
Love food ? Love bees !
What can we do, now that we know about solitary bees and what great pollinators they are? We can provide habitats and friendly environments for bees. Build or buy a bee house or hotel, and solitary bees will start to lay their eggs in it over the summer – our friends at Wildlife World have a large selection. It’s as simple as that; to quote the film Field of Dreams, “If you build it they will come”,
At NOA, as well as worrying about bees, we specialise in research, coaching and marketing services for the packaging industry. To find out how we can help with anything from packaging market research to producing a corrugated packaging industry report, please get in touch.