This is a guest post by freelance journalist Lucy Woods.
Five-piece, Brighton-based, self-proclaimed “psychedelic indie-pop” band Octopuses is campaigning to raise awareness for the plight of bees.
The campaign is asking bee-appreciators and environmental advocates all over the internet to re-tweet or share their music video: ‘Not The Bees’ today; Monday 12th September. The Twitter hashtag for the campaign is #NotTheBees. The song will be officially released Friday 30th September, with all sale proceeds donated to bee charities.
Native UK bees have declined from 50 recorded species in 1950 to 25 today. Non-native bee species, increased use of insecticides and pesticides, genetically modified crops, loss of habitat, monoculture and bees not adapting to climate change, are all thought to be causes for the decline of bees in the UK.
Talking to frontman and keyboard player, Adam Bell, he said the song was a “more fun approach” to raising ecological awareness “than your average wildlife documentary.”
The lyrics originated from a common experience: finding a dead bee and not knowing what to do about it. Bell attempted to save this dead bee by smothering it in honey. “Unfortunately it didn’t work,” he says.
Despite the dead bee, a memorable chorus was born: “…I don’t know why this bee had to die, why oh why couldn’t it just stay alive? No amount of honey could keep this bee alive!”
Bell says he hopes the song will start discussions, “in an accessible way,” adding that, “as a rock band we don’t have to worry about […] rocking the boat as much as, say, government lobbying organisations.”
The band’s eco-awareness was partly influenced by living in Brighton (the only UK constituency with a Green Party MP), says Bell.
In support of the campaign, Brighton MP Caroline Lucas said, “bees play an essential role in our ecosystem, pollinating plants and crops.” Lucas also quoted a University of Reading study that estimates pollination by hand would cost £1.8 billion a year. According to a Farmer’s Weekly survey, that’s enough to pay over 7,000 full time farmers an average wage, every year.
Octopuses’ rapper and singer Tom Matthews has volunteered for the Green Party, and studied an MSc in Sustainable Cities at King’s College. However, Bell says Matthews’ original climate change concerns were actually born from “losing sleep after watching documentaries as a young teenager.”
Smalan Odgers – Octopuses’ guitarist and video creator – is also an amateur naturalist who has spent late nights watching doomsday documentaries about bee-decline. “Losing bees could be the loose bit of wool on a finely knitted jumper, it could unravel the beautiful and delicate ecosystem we live in and plummet us into a dystopian nightmare,” Odgers said.
You can help their campaign to save bees by sharing this link:
Octopuses released their debut album, ‘Yes Please’ last year. The band says all sales of their single ‘Not The Bees’ will be donated to bee charities. They are playing at the Prince Albert, Brighton, on Friday 16th September.
Bell says hopefully the campaign “will inspire others to get involved and this will have a knock on effect which could really make a difference.”
“Also, the song is really good.”
Lucy EJ Woods is a freelance journalist specialising in energy and environment. You can see her work here and follow her on Twitter @lucyejwoods.