Have you seen the new Pigments by Liv Honeybee collection? I hope you are as buzzed about it as I am! For me, the collection is all about the importance of biodiversity, climate, and social justice. Which is why, in this blog, we need to start by finding out how bees are helping elephants?
How are Bees Helping Elephants?
You may be wondering, what have elephants got to do with bees. Well, Elephants are afraid of bees. So, conservationists are using this knowledge to install natural, beehive fences instead of electric ones to keep elephants out of local farms. Reducing human-elephant conflict.
Why are bees so afraid of Honeybees?
Surely a tiny bee can’t hurt a big elephant, right? Technically you’re right, but when an African honeybee stings an elephant, it releases a chemical signal to the rest of the hive, telling them exactly where to sting. Hundreds of bees stinging the exact same spot is bound to hurt!
“The Elephants and Bees Project is part of the Save the Elephants’ Human Elephant Coexistence Program, based in Sagalla, Kenya, next to Tsavo National Park. Our award-winning project explores the use of Beehive Fences as a natural elephant deterrent, helping protect farmers and farmland.
The idea is based on our innovative research using elephants’ fear of African honeybees to help reduce crop damage and minimize other human-elephant conflict incidences. A win-win addition to a toolbox of deterrent methods, beehive fences help create a social and economic boost to farmers through pollination services and the harvesting of ‘Elephant-Friendly Honey’.”
This fantastic project highlights how important co-existence is. By encouraging local farmers to install beehive fences they not only reduce human-elephant conflict but also give them a new income.
This acts as an incentive to plant and cultivate flowers to help strengthen their hives, encourage them to stay and produce high quality honey. It just goes to show how social justice and climate justice are one and the same.
Inspired by African Honeybees
It is well known that the global bee population is declining, so it made sense to finally create a bee collection. However, most people don’t realise how many different species of bee there are. There are over 20,000 different species of Bee, which is just insane!
I’ve seen so many bee designs inspired by Bumble Bees, I felt the need to choose another species. After stumbling across the Elephant and Bee project, it made sense to create a collection inspired by the East African Lowland Honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata), a subspecies of the Honeybee.
Aren't they also known as killer bees?
No! Killer Bees, or the “Africanized bee”, is the result of breeding the East African Lowland Honeybee with other Honeybee species. It was created when the East African Lowland honeybee was imported to Brazil to increase honey production in America.
However, it escaped and bred with native US bees. Honeybees are not native to the US, which is why American honeybee conservation is a hot topic. Although, they increase the nation’s crop value, they create competition with native bee species and do not foster the conservation of native plants.
Behind the Honeybee Collection
Before drawing the Honeybee design, I never realised how fluffy bees were! 90% of wild plants rely on pollinators, like the honeybee. A bees furriness helps them to collect pollen. As pollination is a key part of the design, I opted for a circular graphic, so I didn’t lose any fluff!
The world’s reliance on pollinators also led to the phrase featured on the honeybee design: “There’s No Planet B, But There Is A Plan B”. Save the Tubby Unicorns Rhino design is one of the best-selling t-shirts. If humour helps spread the word about animal conservation, then I hope you enjoy this pun (because it’s true!!!).
My favourite part of the design has to be the wings. Insect wings are just so stunningly beautiful, they’re so shiny but also translucent and delicate. If you look closely, you can see a network of veins that runs through them.
I used an eraser and white pen to go back over the wings, making them stand out and reflect the light. Nature is so damn clever, so I really wanted this feature to stand out.
No Planet B, but there is a Plan B
According to ipbes, 90% of wild plants and about a third of the food we consume relies on pollinators, such as the African Honeybee. To lose bees, or even just the honeybee, could have a serious impact on the entire planet.
Therefore, I think projects that empower Bee Keeping and Bee Conservation are so incredibly important. When we think of animal conservation, I can’t imagine many of us immediately think of bees, or insects at all, but we all have their role to play in the ecosystem no matter what our size!