Bees are some of the hardest working creatures on the planet, and because of their hard work ethic, and crutial role in keeping our ecosystem healthy, we owe many thanks to this amazing yet under-appreciated insect. But where are all the bees in Singapore? What can we do to help protect them? And where can we buy all natural, chemical free honey that is locally produced?
To answer these questions and more, I reached out to Xavier Tan who is a local beekeeper hoping to spread awareness about the conservation of our bees. He helps relocate bees in Singapore and also has a garden where he keeps his own. Sitting down with Xavier, one of my first questions is “Why are there so few bees in Singapore?”
According to Xavier there is no one fixed reason, but urbanisation is a big one. It not only leads to a lack of plants available to the bees, but also an increase in plants being introduced to the local ecosystem that are not bee friendly. Plus with urbanisation comes a lot more people who tend to call their friendly neighbourhood pest control whenever they see a beehive.
But why should we be concerned about the decline in the bee population? These tiny creatures are much more important than you think.
– They pollinate around a third of the food that we have on our table so without them we could be facing a food shortage.
– They pollinate other plants and trees which provide food for other animals. If animals start losing their food supply a domino effect will occur and our whole ecosystem will be imbalanced.
– They pollinate around 80 per cent of the trees in forests. Without bees, the population of trees will decline which will mean less oxygen is produced, less carbon dioxide is absorbed and a bigger greenhouse effect will be created.
– They also pollinate flowers which contribute to the beautification of our floral landscape. This may not be the most important role they have, but I love my garden and personally would love to have more bees around so my flowers would have a fighting chance of survival.
– They produce HONEY! Nothing beats a beautiful jar of fresh honey sitting on your kitchen table.
So, the big question is – What can we do to help conserve the bees?
- Educate yourself. Bees are actually pretty friendly and don’t sting people as much as you may think. So please think twice before calling pest control the next time you find a hive on your property. If you are really uncomfortable with them being there or they are in a position where they will be easily bothered, call Xavier instead of pest control. He will move them to a new area safely.
- If you have a garden, plant species of plants that are bee friendly and have a lot of nectar. Fruit trees are great because the bees are able to pollinate them and there is also an added benefit of having home grown food. Xavier’s top 5 bee friendly plants in Singapore are: Basil, Lime, Star fruit, Bitter gourd and Ladyfinger.
“The end goal is to put bees in the most natural environment possible, give them access to a diverse amount of plants and just let them do their thing.”
Oh, and if you love honey as much as I do, you’ll love Xaviers. His honey is not only locally produced, it is all natural and free of any chemicals. According to Xavier a lot of overseas bees tend to have diseases. This is mainly because of monoculture (which is when only one type of crop is produced for the bees to collect nectar from) and not being able to have access to a diverse array of plants and nutrients. Plus, many bees are fed chemicals to remove any potential diseases. Xavier’s bees have full access to his garden with a wide variety of organically grown fruit and vegetable plants to feast on – Bees being raised the healthy way.
You can also volunteer to work in his garden which is located at the Ashram halfway house and is run by residents and volunteers. It’s a fantastic project that is not only benefiting the bees, but also 200 needy families around Singapore who receive the food harvested from it.
His honey is a staple in my home and I’m sure you will also love it if you give it a try 🙂