‘Bee Love’ campaign in supports native black bees and refugees

Spreading awareness around nurturing and protecting the bee community

All photos credits - Olly Burns

Non-profit community wellness platform We Are Formless launch a new creative campaign to raise awareness around the importance of caring for the bee community in the UK.

Marina South, co-founder of We Are Formless said -

“Bees are the foundation of our natural environment and protecting them is a collective journey. Through shared knowledge and community action we can protect our bee population and cultivate a more balanced environment for all.”

A third of UK bees have disappeared in the last 10 years and a quarter of European species are at risk of extinction. Since 1945, the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows, a vital habitat which pollinators depend on for food and shelter.

As part of the campaign We Are Formless will release a series of mini guides with information on simple ways people can nurture and protect bees within their gardens, communities and shared green spaces.

A campaign t-shirt and poster will be also available to purchase with 50% of proceeds raised being donated to Bees and Refugees. Both organisations will team up to host Bee Love Workshops at a Hives in Central London throughout the Summer months with 100% of the proceeds going to Bees and Refugees.

Bees and Refugees founder Ali Alzein said -

“I got my first hive in London in 2019, I instantly realised this is something that is so therapeutic because I’ve seen how it impacted my mental health right away. The first session when I was introducing the bees to my new hive I felt peace I hadn’t felt for many years.”

“In February 2020 I registered Bees & Refugees as a CIC and crowdfunded the money I needed to buy the first hives and introduced 20 bee colonies to west London schools and private gardens"

"When lockdown happened we realised how many community members would benefit from beekeeping workshop. We had already established a partnership with the Refugee Resettlement Programme in London and had been offering workshops with them and the Red Cross, then during lock down we also offered these to the local community.”

_"Our next goal is to establish our own community farm. We are working on an amazing field managed by a large company in Bromley. We can use this as a base to grow our operation sustainably and start arranging workshops in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Greece.” _

"The native black bee used to be the dominant bee in the UK since the last ice age. When beekeepers imported Italian bees around 100 years ago, they brought a parasite which almost wiped out the native black bees. People started only raising imported bees and this became the rule. Now it's really rare to find a beekeeper keeping native black bees.”

"They think native black bees are aggressive, but they are very docile. If you treat them ethically and respectfully and don’t steal all their honey there is no reason for them to be angry and aggressive."

"It was really shocking to learn that the UK has a native bee that is well adapted to the weather and the climate, it flies out in the rain, it survives harsh winters when Italian bees die if the winter is too long or harsh. I was really shocked that beekeepers here give up on it, even major organisations don't mention or talk about native bees and only focus on educating people in commercial beekeeping. Unfortunately when I talk about these things I get called a radical bee keeper by others who keep bees for the sake of profit."

Find out more here -