Why Are Honeybees So Important?
Bees are amazing little creatures. Not only do they make great tasting honey, but they are also involved in pollinating lots of our food and wildflowers.
As they look out for us, we need to make sure we help protect them, too.
However, the bee populations have reduced by about a third in the last 30 years. Bees might be under threat, but we can all do our bit to make the world a bee-friendly place.
Why are bees important?
Honeybees are nature's best pollinators. Worker bees collect pollen to feed their larvae, storing it in pollen baskets in their legs or on branched hairs on their body. As they go from flower to flower, they lose some of the pollen they have collected. Some of this pollen may land on the female parts of other flowers of the same species, resulting in cross-pollination. Without this process, plants have to rely on wind to carry pollen, which isn't as effective. Without cross-pollination, plants can't reproduce.
If bees went extinct, there would be a huge decline in a lot of the crops that we depend on as food for humans and agriculture.
Why are bees important to the ecosystem?
All elements of an ecosystem are important to the functioning of that ecosystem. The main reason that these fuzzy pollinators are important for our world is as simple as this: if the honey bee does not pollinate the crops, the crops do not grow and produce the food that gets harvested and brought to the store where we buy it and bring it home to feed ourselves and our families. In other words, there is a direct connection between the bees pollinating the crops and our ability to provide food for our families.
We are losing the bees that live naturally in the wild. We depend on these insects for our food, but in an ecosystem where pollution and urbanization are altering nature dramatically, we are all in big trouble.
Many of our food crops for both man and animals depend on bees for pollination. It is estimated that if the bee population was somehow reduced by at least 30 percent, more than half of the world’s food supply will be adversely affected. With droughts, earthquakes and other natural and manmade disasters befalling us nowadays, losing the bees is yet another challenge to our survival as the dominant species on Earth. We may even go the way of the dinosaur and the dodo, no thanks to the elimination of our little striped helpers.
We should all be concerned after all; bees are essential not only for their honey and beeswax but, more importantly, for their roles in food production for humanity’s benefit.
Why are Bees dying?
There are quite a few threats to our striped friends.
Pesticides are one of them. They are harming them by causing them to lose their way home, research suggests. Two studies provide strong evidence that pesticides sprayed on farmers’ fields, and used on private gardening threaten bumblebees and honey bees.
Bees feed on pollen and nectar produced by plants. When bees can't find their way back to the hive, they're unable to bring the nectar they've collected back to the hive. Without nectar, the other bees in the hive, including the pupae, larvae, and the queen bee, have nothing to eat.
Insecticides cause colony collapse disorder
Insecticides called neonicotinoids may also fuel Colony Collapse Disorder. The phenomenon, marked by the disappearance of honey bee colonies, is a problem in northern hemisphere countries.
They are losing their food sources
Rural and forested land is consistently being developed for housing and shopping malls, reducing the flower sources they feed on. In addition, bees can’t find nectar and pollen as easily as they used to because of weed sprays and “better” pasture care. The weeds, from which they gather much wildflower honey, simply aren’t there.
Parasites are attacking bees
The varroa mite is an external parasite that plagues bees. It was first discovered in Indonesia in 1904 and was transported to the Americas by humans. It attaches itself to bees and sucks their blood, significantly reducing their life span. Commercial beekeepers developed a remedy for the mite, a miticide that keeps their hives alive and able to work. The miticide is, however, yet another poison bees come into contact with.
How can we do our part to save the bees
Just as much as bees have a role in ensuring the survival of humanity, we also have roles in ensuring their survival. This way, we can ensure that the symbiotic relationship we have with bees will endure for many more generations.
Here are some ways that we can protect bees:
- Stay away from harmful chemicals and pesticides.
- Plant trees, flowers, and vegetables. Maintain your garden!
- Don't kill weeds and wildflowers during the early spring months. Bees depend on weeds and wildflowers for nectar as these plants are some of the earliest bloomers. You can also buy a pollinator wildflower mix to plant in your yard.
- Buy more organic, non-GMO produce. Use your dollars to support farms that use bee-friendly practices
- Support beekeepers! Buy local honey and beeswax products they produce.to make
- Become a beekeeper.
Ultimately, the greatest defense bees have is their biggest challenge: ignorant humans. Being an advocate for bees means you're an advocate for the entire ecosystem, and the best chance we have to resolve this issue is by spreading awareness. Make sure to share this post with friends and family!
College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Green Life.