On the occasion of World Bee Day, we interview Jocelyn McBride who tells us the story of how a tour bus for INXS became a roving classroom.
Beebus is a story of passion and commitment to environmental education and conservation. Started by keen apiarist Jocelyn, the concept is part of a wider educational business called PlanBee and is creating new eco warriors from a young age one school and one bee at a time.
Can you tell me your story of how PlanBee was created and why?
I became interested in beekeeping and really enjoy learning all about these amazing insects every day. I am ‘bitten by the bug’ as they say.
As part of my journey into the world of apiculture, I became invested in sharing my love of bees with the wider world and co-founded the local beekeepers Association in Dubai. Children seem particularly transfixed by bees and their habitats so I started visiting schools. The enthusiasm of the students and the teachers led me to the idea for the BeeBus.
Plan Bee is named in so far as, Plan A for our planet is not working so well, thus far. Time for a new plan. The new plan is to create new eco warriors from a young age one school and one bee at a time.
What are the different elements of the programmes, including the BeeBus?
We look closely at the relationship between bees, pollination and their relationship to many of the fruits and vegetables food we love to eat. We explore the biology of the bees, their social structure and how they live.
We also undertake organic planting and get in children involved in exploring ideas that can help Save the planet. Finally, we also look at the role of bees in history and in Arabic culture. Among the fun things do are: local honey tasting and candle making, dress up, story time as well as dance and movement in our classes.
The two fundamentals underpinning the BeeBus are that all we must start taking responsibility for our planets health and that learning should be fun!
We are a fully inclusive concept; all are welcome to learn and share.
There is such a great story behind the bus and how it was created, can you share this with us?
It can be cumbersome and difficult to take an entire school to visit an apiary. So, it seemed logical to me to bring the apiary into schools through a variety of media.
A local racing team called ‘Vendetta Racing UAE’ imported a bus from the UK that was formerly the tour bus for INXS and then transport for the ‘Help for Heroes’ in the UK. They transformed it into the Beebus – a roving classroom and a world first. I use this bus to travel all over the UAE sharing my passion for nature, conservation and of course, bees!
What has the response been like locally to the BeeBus and your programming?
The children and teachers love it! They leave our bus as eco warriors keen to protect mother earth. They learn that everyone of them can make a change to be more sustainable.
Bees numbers have been on the decline globally for various reasons, why is it important to protect them and raise awareness about the important role they play in the environment?
There is a direct link between the health of bee populations, pollination and food security. As one in 3 bites of everything we eat is due to the action of bees and other pollinators, we need to protect our pollinators and nature in general. The first step in achieving this is to make people aware of how marvellous nature is. If children love nature, they are more likely to grow into adults that want to protect it.
Small businesses have taken a huge hit due to the pandemic, what challenges have you encountered?
Unfortunately, we have had to park the BeeBus until schools reopen and external educators can safely visit. Meanwhile, we are working on a few fun new ideas for children, so that they can have a fun few hours with us on the BeeBus in the future.
What does the world/Dubai look like post pandemic?
My anecdotal evidence suggests that people have become more appreciative of what they have, their own potential and capacity for change and the importance of family and community. Moreover, nature is literally blooming without so much human interference. Therefore, many are making the link that growing food locally and travelling less is better for us and the planet.
Do you think consumers will now be readdressing their spending habits by thinking more consciously about what they buy and from whom, will we see a shift away from the global and towards the local brands?
I sincerely hope people will re-examine their shopping behaviours. Time will tell if the current drop in consumerism is a temporary or permanent reaction to our long standing addiction to shopping for what we want over what we need.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
Local businesses tend to support families and communities over spreadsheets and shareholder dividends. Communities that are mutually supportive tend to be stronger. Local products also have a lower carbon footprint.
What are your Eid plans?
Gardening, bees and a visit to the beach (COVID rules permitting).
Can you share with us any sustainable practices you implement in your daily life?
The easy ones that anyone can do are:
- Always use Bags for life, recycle, use cars less often, walk or cycle more often. Eat fruit and vegetables that in season. Even better, grow your own so you know what you’re eating is organic and good for you. Eat local honey from a reputable local beekeeper. Measure your homes carbon footprint and see how you can reduce it. Get your children and neighbours involved in small initiatives like composting or planting pollinator friendly plants. Ask everyone you buy from what steps they are taking to be greener, so a healthy planet stays on every corporate agenda. Stop or reduce your purchases from major polluters.
- COVID has taught us that when we all pull together in same direction; we can make a significant positive contribution to our communities. That small individual actions can add up to a big difference. So, let’s make our planet a little bit greener and the air a little bit cleaner