In celebration of Mother's Day, we pay tribute to the vital role the Queen Bee plays in the bee colony. A Queen Bee is the mother of the colony she rules, having produced most of the bees that live in her hive. Without the Queen, a colony simply would not survive. Along with reproduction, the Queen maintains the hive's strength by secreting a special pheromone that unites the bees and keeps them working together for the good of the colony.
Because Queen Bees are so critical to hives, beekeepers keep a close watch on the health of their colonies' Queens. Sometimes, it is necessary for a beekeeper to intervene and bring in a new Queen if the current one is growing older and not producing enough offspring to keep the colony strong, or if she dies and there are no Queens to replace her.
In an effort to assist beekeepers in Ukraine, Greater Good Charities, in conjunction with Mann Lake, TRIWA, and the Brotherhood of Ukrainian Beekeepers, are working together to provide Queen Bees to beekeepers in Ukraine whose colonies and hives have been destroyed by the impact of war.
The campaign to help the bees and their keepers in Ukraine, many of whom are veterans, will begin with supporting beekeepers who need new, viable Queens to boost their existing colonies or start new ones. In June, the effort will expand by mobilizing a shipment of bee pollen substitute to Ukraine and will distribute that, along with sugar to feed the bees, to beekeepers who desperately need the support.
Ukraine relies heavily on bees, being one of the largest producers of honey in the world. Bees in Ukraine play a crucial part in pollinating important crops like sunflowers and sunflower products, which are exported across the globe. When the bees in Ukraine suffer, it impacts people everywhere.
Many beekeepers fleeing their homes during the conflict in Ukraine have had to leave their colonies and hives behind. Untended, the hives fall into ruin, and without beekeeper intervention, colonies can easily become victims of varroa mites, a deadly parasite. Other hives have been destroyed by munitions, resulting in an industry in disrepair and the livelihood of many Ukrainians destroyed.
As surviving bees emerge from winter hibernation, they face starvation as the amount and viability of the forage they rely on has been impacted by the war. The vegetation they need that has survived may not produce the bulbs needed for food. Moreover, remnants of belligerents from munitions, rockets, and chemicals remain in the environment and are easily transferred to bees as they forage on flowers and bring back to the hive on their coats. The belligerents are deadly to bee larvae and can kill an entire hive.
Intervention is critical to help revive colonies with new Queens and feed the bees in the coming months and beyond. In honor of Mother’s Day, please support Ukrainian beekeepers by making a donation to help replenish colonies with Queens and feed the bees in Ukraine before they starve. Your support can make a significant difference in the lives of these hardworking creatures and the people who depend on them.