Understanding the importance of bees

The world of bees is as fascinating as it is threatened. Every year, higher than average losses in bee colonies are being reported around the world. And while the situation may not be as critical as a decade ago, it is still extremely serious.

Creating a buzz around bees

The Hero Group launched the bee careful initiative in an effort to better understand and address the bee colony collapse disorder problem. Bees pollinate about 80% of the world’s plants – fruit in particular. Without bees, not only would orchard yields and fruit quality be considerably lower, some fruit species would practically disappear. Bees are essential for us all, and in particular for the Hero Group as a major fruit user.

Visit the bee careful website

To bee

Bees are fascinating creatures that are responsible for around 80% of plant pollination, especially fruit. Thanks to these little creatures, we have a large choice when we visit local groceries or supermarkets. The abundance of freshness and goodness of nature is there to behold. Mother Nature creates the raw materials, and she does so with help from bees. Bees, and many other insects of the like, have a very large role to play also in the health of our soil and ecosystem for agriculture.

... or not to bee

If all bees were gone today, the picture would look very different. Many of the fruit and vegetables we have now grown accustomed to, and often take for granted, will no longer be available to us. Take a look at the picture on the right – this is what a bee-free supermarket would look like. Doesn’t look good, does it?

Source: The EAT-Lancet Commission

The main aims behind bee careful are:

  • To support farmers and educate on bees as natural pollinators – which also drive yield improvements
  • To assist in targeted research that highlights the challenges and actions required to support the ecosystem that bees and other critical insects support
  • To disseminate knowledge in schools and other institutions
  • To provide support to beekeepers and prospective beekeepers

“The future of our planet depends on sustainable and intelligent treatment of our biosphere… it is a wonderful initiative by the Hero Group to support basic honeybee research.”

Jürgen Tautz

Professor at the University of Würzburg and manager of Wee4Bee (formerly Honey Bee Online Studies)

Examples of outstanding projects

Over the past three years, many projects were carried out by Hero Group subsidiaries. As one of the biggest projects, the bee research stations in Schwartau and Würzburg (both in Germany), and Bournemouth (UK) are a key component of the initiative. These stations were co-funded by the Hero Group companies Schwartau and Organix. The teams in Germany and the UK are working together with Wee4Bee (formerly the Honey Bee Online Studies - HOBOS) to perform comparative research analyses using the data from these high-tech beehives. These studies include insights into universal or location-dependent factors influencing bee biology and health, which can be helpful for beekeepers all over the world.

In other projects, Schwartau has launched a ‘bee-helper’ natural spread with which the company raises awareness with over two million consumers for the importance of meadow orchards for pollinators. The company has contributed to funding the expansion of these orchards and helped plant 500,000m2 of bee-friendly wild­flower meadows.

Hero MEA (Middle East & Africa) has initiated a long-term project to help save a distinctive type of Egyptian bee from extinction. This project is strongly related to biodiversity, one of the biggest concerns around environmental sustainability. Hero Benelux has funded a bee education center and is involved in projects aimed at increasing the biodiversity in the city of Breda where they have their offices.

In southern Europe, Hero Spain is spreading the word about bee health by increasing external communication and aligning it with a new honey product made from their own bee-hives.