Google is scoring this year, creating a little buzz about a busy little bee that helps keep us alive. Literally.
The annual celebration, which takes place on Wednesday this year, was founded in 1970 and aims to raise awareness of environmental issues, with events around the world promoting recycling, reducing pollution and caring for the planet.
To mark this year’s Earth Day, Google partnered with The Honeybee Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting bees, to build an interactive project. Doodle which presents a bee carrying out its important flower pollination business. You can use the mouse to guide the bee from flower to flower, conducting pollination and revealing interesting facts about bees and their importance in sustaining life on Earth.
Google often animates its basic search page with artwork that draws attention to notable people, events, holidays and birthdays, usually to remind us of lesser known real-world heroes. Although animals often appear in doodles, it is less common for Google to dedicate a doodle to one, as it did in 1997 for .
Guillermo Fernandez founded The Honeybee Conservancy in 2009 to help save bees and help underserved communities to produce healthy food and build green spaces. Bees “pollinate 1 out of 3 bites of food we eat,” but a quarter of the 4,000 species of bees native to North America are at risk of extinction, Fernandez wrote in Google blog post highlighting the vital role of bees in a healthy ecology.
“On a larger scale, the world’s survival depends on theirs,” wrote Fernandez, who serves as the organization’s executive director.
Fernandez reports growing up in a “food desert” full of poverty and rampant health problems, such as obesity, diabetes and asthma. Most local food sources were supermarkets stocked with processed foods or restaurants in the fast food chain, and residents had little idea where their food came from or how to plan a balanced meal.
“The underfunded educational system and limited green spaces amplified the problem: there was no way to learn,” writes Fernandez. “My situation was not unique – in the United States alone, 13.5 million people live in food deserts and 30 million suffer from food insecurity.”
To help protect bee populations and improve “food literacy”, The Honeybee Conservancy provides bee hives and native bee homes to organizations like schools and gardens through its Sponsor-a-Hive program.
“By alleviating financial and educational barriers (maintaining bee hives is an expensive investment that requires training), we create access to resources that, in turn, produce food, improve the environment and bring people together,” he writes.
Fernandez says that Doodle captures the importance that a single bee plays in the world and highlights how small individual actions can result in great results.
And you don’t have to be a beekeeper to help make a difference. Fernandez suggests making investments in local beekeepers, buying locally produced honey and beeswax products. He also recommends donating time and money to local environmental groups.
Seventy percent of native bees live underground, so providing exposed and undisturbed soil or nesting boxes provides them with a refuge. You can also create a bee bath with clean water and stones that allow the bees to have a drink, or a garden with pollinator-friendly plants that provide a source of nutrition.
“There’s no sweeter feeling than knowing that you helped save the bees,” wrote Fernandez, providing a link to more information about bees and ways to help. “At the very least, we hope you will go to Google Doodle today to learn more about our helpful and winged friends!”