Bees are a necessary part of the ecosystem and a common sighting around humans and animals. While some people fear bees because of stinging, bees are valuable pollinators that contribute to the balance of the ecosystem and the health of all living things.
What Is the Purpose of Bees?
Bees have many purposes throughout their lifecycle, all of which are important. Many people think of bees as pollinators, which is one of their primary benefits to the planet. This service is essential to life on earth, and the absence of it would be disastrous.
Some bees, such as honey bees, produce honey as well. This may not seem like an important task when compared to pollination, but honey is an important substance in its own right, as it has created a very large and lucrative industry. Honey also offers medicinal and nutritional benefits.
Along with honey, bees produce beeswax, venom, royal jelly, and propolis. Beeswax is a commonly used product and can be useful in many different industries. Bee venom has been discovered to have certain medicinal properties for potential applications in the future. Royal jelly, a jelly-like substance produced by bees, has medicinal uses for addressing chronic conditions.
Why Do We Need Bees?
Most plant species rely on pollination to reproduce. Bees are among the world’s most important pollinators and aid plant reproduction by transporting pollen from one flower to another. These plants may be necessary for crops, oils and fibres as raw materials, and medication. Some plants are important for preventing soil erosion, keeping waterways clean, and providing habitat and cover for wildlife.
For the climate, plants produce oxygen in a process called photosynthesis. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and use sunlight to make energy, producing oxygen as a waste product. This maintains atmospheric balance by absorbing carbon dioxide, a waste product of humans and other organisms, and producing oxygen, an essential component of respiration for aerobic organisms. Plants also maintain the ozone layer, which protects life on the plant from UV radiation.
Honey bees are among the most efficient pollinating species in the world, pollinating over 2,000 flowers a day on average. This species is used commercially to pollinate crops, but wild honey bees are essential for pollinating native plants.
Why Is Pollination Important and What Does It Do to the Ecosystem?
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from a plant’s anther to the stigma of another, enabling fertilization and production of seeds. Plants can be pollinated by wind or through animals.
Both vertebrates and invertebrates aid in pollination. Along with bats, birds, small mammals, and insects like butterflies and moths, bees are important pollinators that increase the likelihood of successful plant reproduction.
Without pollination, many species of plants would not be able to survive. The lack of pollination in the world would not only hurt these plants but would also damage crops across the globe, which are essential to the survival of human beings. Almost 90% of plants worldwide rely on pollinators to reproduce, so the absence of pollination would be deadly.
What Kind of Fruits and Vegetables Do Bees Pollinate?
Bees have been known to pollinate crops such as melons, cranberries, apples, and broccoli. Some crops, such as almonds, depend practically entirely on bees for survival and pollination. Bees have been known to not pollinate crops that fall into the category of grains.
How Much of the World’s Commercial Crops Depend on Bees?
About 35% of the world’s crops depend on pollinators. Along with this, around three-fourths of the flowering plants around the world depend on animal pollinators. Bees are some of the best pollinators on the planet, and without them, all of these crops and flowering plants would not be able to be pollinated.
What Is the Worth of Food Produced Globally That Depends Directly on Pollination?
The worth of food produced globally that depends directly on pollination is worth between $235 and $577 billion. As this number shows, the cost of losing bees is astronomically high. Without these creatures, an amount of food worth around half a trillion dollars a year couldn’t be produced cost-effectively.
What Would the World Look Like Without Bees?
A world without bees would have fewer plants in it, especially man-made or mass-produced crops like bananas, corn, tomatoes, carrots, and peanuts. Bees are used for pollination in agriculture, so if bees went extinct, the industry would need to find another solution for pollination.
The pollination of plants serves many other purposes, including keeping waterways clean, preventing soil erosion, providing food and habitat for wildlife, and maintaining climate health. Without the contribution of bees as pollinators, it’s possible that many plants would become threatened, endangered, or extinct, and the wildlife would follow in a chain reaction.
Ocean life may survive, but terrestrial herbivores would starve, followed by carnivores. Eventually, the planet would experience devastating climate change, but most life would be wiped out before that happens.
Would Humans Starve Without Bees?
Without bees, survival would be very difficult for humans. Humans depend on crops to survive, and many human crops depend on bees for pollination. While other organisms can also pollinate plants around the world, bees are efficient and make up a significant portion of the pollinators.
Without bees, many of these crops would not be able to survive. Humans have other means of gathering food, but with the crop supply severely damaged, many humans may starve without bees.
Why Is Honey Important?
Honey is important for a variety of reasons. While bees are largely responsible for keeping the huge crop industry afloat every year with pollination, honey has also created a large industry itself.
Honey is a very desirable good across the globe, with many people purchasing it for culinary use. However, it also has some medicinal uses as well, making it that much more of an essential good.
Why Is Beeswax Important?
Beeswax can be a very important product as a therapeutic remedy for ailments. It can be used to help with high cholesterol, fungal skin infections, and general pain, among other uses.
What Industries Use Beeswax?
As mentioned, beeswax is used in the medical field, but it is also a common item in the culinary field as well. Beeswax and beeswax absolute are commonly used as stiffening agents in food and drink.
Yellow and white beeswax is important in the manufacturing industry, where they are again used as stiffening agents, thickeners, and emulsifiers, often in cosmetics. Beeswax absolute is an occasional ingredient in some perfumes, while beeswax can also be used to polish pills.
Are Bees Endangered?
The current bee population worldwide is experiencing a trend downward, as many issues seem to be affecting them. Climate change, changes in the way humans use land, and invasive species are three major factors in the endangerment of bees.
Why Are Bees Disappearing?
Bees are disappearing because the conditions needed for them to thrive on earth are disappearing. Bees need certain things to survive, and those things are disappearing quickly due to climate change. The use of pesticides has also had a significant impact on bee populations, as well as the threat from invasive species and parasites.
What Are the Main Contributors to the Decline of Bee Population?
|Climate Change||Climate change is having a massive impact on bee populations around the globe, as the warming of temperatures has been found to kill bees. Climate change is not only affecting bee colonies that are already in place, but it is also impacting bees' abilities to create new colonies.|
|Pesticides||Pesticides can be extremely harmful to bees. In fact, the use of pesticides accounts for a large portion of the human impact on bee endangerment. Pesticides can not only kill bees, but they can also harm their ability to mate and reproduce.|
|Parasites and Diseases||Parasites and diseases can be extremely dangerous for bees, as they have the ability to wipe out a whole hive after infecting just a single member. Many parasites, such as varroa mites, latch onto a single bee and then lay their eggs inside the hive. Over time through the process of laying eggs, they can wipe out an entire colony.|
How Are Humans Impacting World Bee Population?
Humans have a great impact on the negative trend of the world bee population, through direct and indirect means. The overall effects and impact of climate change have been detrimental for bee populations, just as it has had a negative impact on other plant and animal species across the globe.
In a more direct fashion, the use of human pesticides is a very large bee killer, as the chemicals can be deadly to the creatures. However, not all behaviours that impact bees are large like these two. Even small measures, such as not having flowers in a yard or only having a lawn, can impact the existence of bees.
What Can Humans Do to Help Bees?
There are many small, everyday behaviours that people can do to help save the bees. These can range from planting a garden with native and bee-friendly plants to not using any type of pesticides.
Along with planting bee-friendly gardens, humans can encourage bees by providing water dishes. Humans can also support bees and beekeeping by purchasing local honey or bee products or becoming a beekeeper themselves.