By Gundula Miethke
Every year Rotaract clubs throughout Germany look for a common initiative to participate in on a country-wide basis to demonstrate their commitment to social action. This effort includes hands-on activities, lectures, and public awareness around a single issue. This year, that issue centered on an environmental theme, protecting wild bees.
A Swiss documentary “More than Honey” left a lasting impression on one Rotaractor, who convinced other Rotaract and Rotary members about the menacing problem that these little superheroes find themselves in, one that impacts us as humans as well. The hard-working wild bees are responsible for pollinating more than 75 percent of our crops and wild plants. If they die out, we cannot survive either.
Against bee mortality
Most of the dangers for bees are caused by humans. Climate change, monocultures and pesticides are just some of the major threats. So how can these problems be addressed? German Rotaractors launched the BeeAlive project to support wild bees in three ways.
- Inform the public about bee mortality and its consequences for our environment. Clubs cooperated with beekeeping and conservation groups.
- Raise funds to cover the cost of projects that support conservation organizations and beekeeper associations. Some clubs held quizzes and sold homemade products related to bees or honey.
- Construct “bee hotels” where bees can rest on their way from one meadow to the next, and plant meadows with as many different plant species as possible to create a better environment for the insects.
The project has been a great success because each club can be involved in their location in a manner that best suits them. Rotaractors, Rotarians, family and friends have worked together. More than 100,000 square meters of meadow were planted by clubs in District 1841. Other clubs build bee hotels by the hundreds.
At the Rotary Club Erlangen-Schloss, the plight of bees caught the fancy of a Rotarian artist, who decided to create a Super Bee sculpture. Dieter Erhard and his club used the huge mobile bee sculpture of stainless steel and fluorescent plexiglass to advertise activities surrounding BeeAlive. A social project supported by the club, the Barmherzigen Brüder Gremsdorf, helps those with disabilities.
People with disabilities help build insect hotels that can be purchased by Rotary clubs and Rotaract clubs as well as institutions and property owners. So far, 192 hotels have been ordered. The Erlangen Rotarians offer to help install the hotels at kindergartens and schools.
How are you saving the bees?
The German Rotaractors took on a global issue at a local level. They are hoping to inspire others to join the movement. Share your actions with the hashtag #beealive or contact the BeeAlive team at firstname.lastname@example.org.