The greenery and biodiversity that we live in today is not just a product of rain and sunshine. Someone else is responsible for at least 30% of the rich food that we consume daily. That someone is our fuzzy furry friend, BEES!
The percentage of their hard work that they dedicate to creating our daily vegetation may astonish you. Every third spoon of food that we intake is a product of the hard work of bees.
What is the necessity of bees in the environment?
Before we begin a thorough analysis of what functions make bees the master chefs of our environment, let us have a brief idea of why bees are an absolute necessity for planet Earth.
Around 90% of plants and 30% of food crops depend upon bees for their vegetation and growth. This process is completed through the process of pollination, which is the primary function of bees.
The best part?
The bees are unaware of the effect their existence has on the environment. They just roam around for food and suck on the sweetest nectar that our biodiversity has to offer them. Their hunt for food facilitates our food production, so it is a win-win on both ends. It provides a natural habitat for wild animals who depend on the vegetation provided by the bees through pollination.
Diversity is another factor that this planet is adored for. The diverse variety of flowers and fruits that bees culminate through pollination cannot be made through any other process.
So, we owe it to the bees to protect our environment and keep our stomachs satisfied with the variety of food they produce daily.
Are bees good for your garden?
Now that you have a brief idea of the importance of bees in nature and why their survival in our ecosystem is so vital, let us see how we can make their work easier and our food fresher.
They say that the freshest of foods is made at home.
For this purpose, planting a bee-friendly garden is something YOU can do to make this environment a better place for bees to live in.
Provide bees with the sweetest nectar in your garden itself, and you will not have to worry about the variety of flowers and fruits that will bejewel your garden. It is a mind-breather to sit in a garden where the flowers and fruits are ripe and in full bloom.
Go for plants like blueberries, strawberries, dahlias, sunflowers, etc., as these are the plants with the sweetest of nectars that bees love to feast upon. The idea is to create an almost shabby garden that will attract bees to plants. Make sure you don’t use pesticides and insecticides that contain neonicotinoids because on coming in contact with such pesticides, bees don’t live much longer. There are chances that it might infect its entire hive while bringing food to them.
Hence, as we can see, bees are the centrifugal force that binds our entire ecosystem together. We shall get into more details on this in the latter half of this article, so keep reading.
What are bees good for?
When we ponder on the question, ‘what are bees good for?‘ It is potent to know that talks about bees’ functions as our food-provider and maintainer of our economy’s balance are its significant functions.
Here are some of the most critical and potent functions of bees in our economy.
This is the primordial function through which all the other functions are achieved. Bees pollinate about 3 quarters of plants globally, which in turn produce 90% of the food for mankind. Now that is an immense contribution from a single species.
The process of pollination is quite simple. Pollination is possible through the wind, butterflies, bees, or a process called self-pollination, which is prevalent in some species of plants. However, self-pollinating plants do not require much assistance from bees, so we will not focus on that.
However, for ripeness and freshness, pollination from bees is necessary. The bees’ job is to transfer the pollen from the anther to the stigma of the same flower, or from the anther of one anther to the stigma of another flower. This process is called cross-pollination and facilitates the ripening of fruits, and blooming of flowers.
Over the last 50 years, the dependency of food crops on cross-pollination from bees has doubled. This has made bees a potent part of our environment.
Food for Wild Animals
Yes. You read that right. Bees are the primary source of food that wild animals survive on. Without bees, some of the most unique species on our planet will move into extinction.
Our varied diversity is a culmination of flora and fauna species, and bees contribute to saving and maintaining this diversity all year round.
Well, let’s just say that 90% of the food that every species on this earth survives on, is a result of the hard work of bees all year long. Through their facilitation through cross-pollination, bees contribute to blooming full flowers and fruits for these wild animals to live on.
For example, around 24 species of birds rely on food produced through cross-pollination in nature, like the Blackbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Starling Prey, etc. Similarly, herbivores are also dependent on bees for their food. They need to eat the freshest of plants and fruits to live to their maximum capacity.
This is why bees are a primary source of food for wild animals.
Biodiversity and cross-pollination go hand-in-hand when it comes to the maintenance of variety on this planet. As you take a walk in the woods or in your garden, you might gape at the presence of the diversity there among the flowers and fruits that grow. This very feeling of solitude and happiness that you feel while looking at those flowers and fruits is because of our warm fuzzy friends’ hard work.
Don’t be so eager to shoo them off from your garden if they hover around there. They are the very reason why your garden is filled with fresh, blooming flowers and herbs. Just the way you dreamed about it.
Bees have a similar effect on the diverse environment that we live in today. Through pollination and cross-pollination, bees are responsible for maintaining the varied and continued growth of flowers, fruits, grasses, and herbs all over the earth.
While all they are doing is searching for sweet nectar to feed their families, they are keeping the Earth alive.
Food source for humans
Let’s join the dots carefully.
Where do we get our fresh vegetables from? The market. Where do the shopkeepers buy these vegetables from? The farmers living in the suburbs. Where do these farmers get these vegetables from? They cultivate them on lands. And what facilitates the growth of these vegetables? Pollination. Who is responsible for it? BEES!
It all narrows down to them. Without their help, we wouldn’t get the daily supply of food that we survive on.
The most exciting part of this is that bees provide income facilities to small farmers and farmers working in family-owned farms in developing countries. This is because the land cultivated by the farmers to produce the necessary fruits and vegetables are pollinated by the bees. Without bees, farmers would lose a lot of time and money on trying to pollinate them themselves. Not to mention, hand-pollination is not always practical. At least it does not ripen the fruits like pollination from bees do.
That is why bees need to be protected by us at all costs.
Facilitates Plan Growth
This is a pretty obvious point, and the mitigator of plant growth is, of course, cross-pollination.
The weather is also a considerable benefactor that determines plant growth and the timings on which bees can pollinate. Bees follow a daily schedule just like us humans do and come to feed on nectar produced by sweet flowers.
The cross-pollination function that bees undertake while searching for food facilitates effective plant growth. Adequate pollination increases the amount of agricultural produce in farms. It increases their quality, enhancing the plants’ ability to resist the deadly effect of pesticides.
Without proper pollination from bees, plants will not grow to their full capacity. They will not be completely immune to pesticides and insecticides.
Hence, the presence of bees as we can see has a binding force on nature and biodiversity. The primary function of bees, which is pollination, facilitates a balance in the ecosystem and maintains our biodiversity.
So, is it not our vital duty to ensure that these bees live a long and healthy life? You might ask why we need to save bees. Let’s just say that the current status of bees in the world is not very promising. They are rapidly on the decline, and we must do our part to save them. In Ontario, the dominant species of bees responsible for the variety of fruits and vegetables that we feast on is on the verge of extinction.
So, why do you think that these beautiful creatures are suddenly on the decline? Let us have a closer look into this matter.
Why are bee populations on the decline?
Given that 90% of food crops are produced by bees, we are at a very precarious stage, to say the least. The decline of bees in the world is posing a significant threat to our environment and our habitat. Here are a few reasons why the species of bees are facing a severe decline in the world.
Attention to this must be brought into focus and tended to.
This is the largest reason for the decline in the bee species on our planet. Due to global warming and erratic climate change patterns, some flowers may bloom before or after their seasonal time.
Since bees have a specific time when they visit these seasonal flowers for pollination, the flowers may not have perfectly bloomed to produce nectar for the bees. In this case, the bees don’t get any food and might die out of exhaustion.
This has recently caused a large decline in the bee population.
Deforestation is as severe a threat to the environment as it is to the bees. There is a specific reason behind this.
Bees build and grow their hives in the tree trunks’ hollow side because that is where they feel the safest. Due to large-scale urbanization, more and more trees are being cut down to construct buildings and skyscrapers. As a result of this, bee species are losing their habitat, resulting in a drastic decline of their population.
This poses serious implications on the pollination process from which we fill our stomachs daily. On a more serious note, the balance in the ecosystem gets seriously compromised.
Use of Pesticides
Pesticides are used by almost everyone who cultivates food. It is used to keep pests and mites away from the plants that they can eat at.
On the one hand, plants benefit from these pesticides, on the other, the ingredients in the pesticides are fatal to bees. The component called neonicotinoids is an agent that is fatal to bees and results in their rapid decline.
There are several alternatives of pesticides on the market that do not contain this harmful chemical. It is advisable to use such alternatives.
The bee population is continuously on the decline. It is time we take up the initiative to try and repopulate bees in our world. We can easily do this by planting a bee-friendly garden in our backyards or lawns, and not use harmful pesticides.
The bees desperately need us, and we need to do our best to save the species to whom we owe our lives.