Bees may seem like regular insects, but underneath their innocent appearance, they are so much more. They play important roles in ensuring that our environment stays healthy, and they keep our economy healthy too. Bees are fascinating and beautiful insects, and you can read on to find out what makes them stand out.
The truth is, we cannot live without bees. We often take bees and other butterflies and flies, who are pollinators, for granted. In reality, they are crucial for reliable, nutritious food supplies. They help in growing different plants, providing us with a varied, colorful and nutritious diet that our body requires and heavily relies on.
Bees have the perfect features to carry out the role of pollination, where they encourage plant growth, breeding and the production of food. This happens when the bees carry pollen between plants that grow flowers to maintain the natural process of life. Most of the plants we consume or require for food are dependent on pollination by bees. These plants range from apples and vanilla to almonds and squashes. Besides crops, bees also play an important role in pollinating close to 100% of wildflowers. Without them, our world will literally be dull and less beautiful.
Bees play such an important role in our world; yet, there is a decrease in the number of bees around the world. This is alarming and a reason for the general public and even the political parties to be concerned. Experts have attributed the decline to a list of different factors; from their loss of habitat and places to find food to the increased usage of pesticides and the aftermath of the change in the climate.
It is key that we recognize how bees play important roles in our world and in nature. It is time to transform that recognition into actions to protect the bees and their habitat to ensure their survival but to help them thrive as well.
As mentioned earlier, bees play an important role as pollinators in nature. Thanks to them, we get to harvest various crops from vanilla, pears, to coffee and apples. Bees also pollinate cotton plants, allowing us to harvest the crop and make clothes and other cotton objects! Bees carry out pollination by gathering pollen from flowering plants to fill their nests to feed their young. Bees have physical features that are built to do the job perfectly, like branched hairs called “scopae” or combs of bristles known as pollen baskets on their legs. These features help them to catch pollen on their bodies as bees seek food from plants, passing them in between the plants and carrying out pollination between them.
Insects like beetles and wasps as well as some birds are also pollinators that play important roles in nature. Most of these pollinators only visit enough flowers and plants to satisfy their hunger. Bees, on the other hand, need to gather enough pollen to fill their nests. This means that they visit more flowers and plants than the rest. This makes them the best pollinators since they drop by more flowers and thus, help to collect a great amount of pollen in between various plants. Certain species of bees have also evolved to pollinate certain plants and without them, these plants would not receive as much pollination, resulting in a decrease in numbers.
Bees also act as signs to indicate how healthy nature is. Now that bees are in trouble and are in decline, it sends off a signal that our natural environment is also in danger and not how it should be.
Bees play a crucial role in the life cycles and reproduction of various plants. They help add color, variety, and beauty to the countryside. In Europe, 80% of its wildflowers depend on insect pollination for its life cycle and reproduction. For instance, plants like foxglove, clovers, and vetches rely heavily on bees.
What bees do as pollinators are that it allows plants to fruit, set seed and breed. This results in a cycle that provides food and habitat for various other animals and insects. Therefore, we can say that the health of our natural ecosystems is closely linked to the health of bees and other pollinators.
More than Honey
We can probably still survive without bees. However, without these beautiful insects, our world and diets will be dull, poor and less healthy. Beyond honey, bees play a fundamental role in nature and in our world as certain plants grown for the purpose of feeding livestock like clover and alfalfa also partly rely on bee pollination.
When thinking about a larger issue like food security, bees ensure the security of our regular food supply. The United Nations FAO even stated that stirring pollinators, especially bees, would be one of the best and most effective ways to ensure food security and promote sustainable farming practices.
Let us look at the work that bees have done in terms of numbers. The global market value directly related to pollinators is between US$235 billion to US$557 billion each year. Bees not only fill our bellies. but also our pockets. In the UK, it would take $1.8 billion pounds a year just to hire workers to do pollination work done by the bees. Despite so, bees do the work entirely free of charge!
Bees are Specialists
Bees have different characteristics that make them suitable to pollinate different plants. The Early bumblebee has a small size and agility that helps it enter plants like comfrey which has droopy flowers. Garden bumblebees are more suited than other bees to pollinate plants like honeysuckle and foxgloves, which have deep flowers. This is because Garden bumblebees have longer tongues that can reach deep into the flowers.
Farmers depend on many different kinds of bees to pollinate their crops and produce. Bees like the Red mason bee benefit commercial farmers as the free pollination by the species is 120 times more efficient than other types of bees. Pollination by the correct type of bees has also been proven to improve the quality of the crop, like increasing its nutritional value and improving its shelf life. In the case of strawberries, bumblebees and solitary bees tend to feed on different parts of the strawberry flowers which result in bigger, juicier and more evenly shaped fruits. This increases the quality of the strawberry produce.
Bees are certainly very unique and important insects in our world. However, most people only see them as beautiful and bright insects to admire. Beyond that, the work that bees do makes them special and ensures that our world and natural ecosystems function efficiently, providing food for our bellies and driving industries that fill our wallets.