“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years to live.” This was usually attributed to Albert Einstein, to show just how much we depend on these fuzzy insects. Bees are one of the most impactful animals in our world, and are vital keys in the human food supply. They’re incorporated into most of our everyday lives, whether we know it or not, and without them our agricultural infrastructure would cease to exist. From supporting plant life, to the food on our plate, there’s a lot to be said about these bugs. Besides the Bee Movie. There’s honestly a LOT of misleading information about that, but that’s another shpeel.
Today I want to highlight some key points about how bees are important to human life by explaining a bit about what exactly bees do, how they positively affect environmental growth, and give some perspective as to what would happen if the bee population keeps declining.
Honeybees go from flower to flower collecting pollen on their feet, unknowingly fertilizing flowers which help keep the species alive. They take that back to their hive and turn it into honey, which helps feed their colony and their queen. Bees are a very hierarchical insect, and have the workers, drones, and queen in established duties and status. The workers (which are mostly female) are the ones in search of pollen and nectar, drones are the males that take care of the queen, and the queen is responsible for the eggs that populate the colony, and can live up to seven years. They produce honey, which is one of the most universal ingredients known to man. It doesn’t spoil, and has been mentioned throughout history since biblical times.
Bees have existed for millions of years, and have evolved over time to become the main vehicle for pollination in plants. According to Omlet.us, “ Most flowering plants cannot self-pollinate and pollination that relies on the wind to carry their seed is not very efficient, so flowers evolved with bright colors and markings to attract bees and to ensure that they were rewarded for the pollination service provided them with a nutritious nectar too.”
Bees are the reason plants are able to survive, therefore any plant in the wild or that humans have an industry for depend on their survival. According to research done for Agresearch magazine, 1 in three bites of food that you eat has directly or indirectly depended on pollination. So much so that the service bees provide was valued at Cornell University to be more than $14 BILLION per year. Certain foods like almonds, wheat, and strawberries are a few of the hundreds of crops that bees unknowingly help support. One bee can help pollinate 10,000 plants in her lifetime, which would be a costly man-made effort to replicate. One important plant that bees help grow is corn, which is used as food for livestock. So say a thank you to your local beehive, for their distant relatives are a stepping stone for the meat industry’s survival.
Another positive impact that bees have is the welfare of our planet. PremierTech.com notes how they support the growth of trees, flowers, and other plants, which serve as food and shelter for creatures large and small. Bees are responsible for the growth of tropical rainforests, woodlands, and flowering fields.
Albert Einstein really wasn’t kidding with the statement on a world without bees. The US Environmental Protection Agency states that, due to a rising issue called Colony Collapse Disorder (which is when all the worker bees disappear and leave the Queen behind), populations have decreased by 28.7 percent since 2007. This obviously brings trouble towards the points I mentioned earlier, because if the worker bees leave there’s no hive to take care of, and they all die. Lower bee populations means not enough pollination going around, which could prove disastrous for the food industry. It also means that the ecosystems would be compromised, and there would be no homes or food for the remaining animals that live there. In order to try and prevent this from happening, the New York Bee Sanctuary recommends that you “do not use any pesticides, plant your garden with native bee-friendly plants, and support your local bee keepers.” Doing something as simple as planting flowers can help maintain and grow an integral part of our food and environmental systems.
To wrap things up, we wouldn’t be where we are without bees. We wouldn’t have the fruit and vegetables, meats, or fine things in life like honey or wax for our beauty products. We certainly wouldn’t have oxygen to breathe, either. These little creatures usually go unnoticed by themselves, but the impact they have is more valuable than any other animal. So now that you know more about them, and how they affect us, you now know why we need them so badly. If you’re wondering just how exactly you can help them, there are many resources that can point you in the right direction. Thank you all for reading what exactly the buzz is about bees.
Rodgers, Paul. “Einstein And The Bees. Should You Worry?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 May 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulrodgers/2014/09/09/einstein-and-the-bees-should-you-worry/.
Omlet. “Homepage.” About Bees | Bees | Guide | Omlet US, http://www.omlet.us/guide/bees/about_bees/history/.
Hackett, Kevin J. “Bee Benefits to Agriculture.” Agresearch Magazine, Mar. 2004, pp. 1–2.
“5 Ways Bees Are Important to the Environment.” Canada’s Leading Lawn and Garden Manufacturer, http://www.pthomeandgarden.com/5-ways-bees-are-important-to-the-environment/.
“Colony Collapse Disorder.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 26 Apr. 2018, http://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder.
“10 Ways You Can Help Save the Bees.” New York Bee Sanctuary, http://www.newyorkbeesanctuary.org/blog/2016/3/3/10-ways-you-can-help-save-the-bees.
Ramanujan, Krishna. “Cornell Chronicle.” Insect Pollinators Contribute $29 Billion to U.S. Farm Income, 22 May 2012, news.cornell.edu/stories/2012/05/insect-pollinators-contribute-29b-us-farm-income.
Thank you for reading!! Being aware of how we treat these creatures will bring us a better and brighter tomorrow:)