Bee health has been declining since the 1990’s all over the world, particularly in locations with industrialised agriculture. The decline is vast and has provoked a wide bee colony loss phenomenon. Now governments, NGOs and the private sector are forced to recognise the situation and try to help bees. But why is helping them so important?
With bees disappearing, everyone has been forced to question themselves: What is the relationship of bees with our agriculture and our food?
Well, animals pollinate over 80% of flowering plants (plants that need pollination) and, among these animals, bees are by far the most important. There are approximately 25,000 different species of bees, and they are as important to the environment as they are diverse. Bees unknowingly provide us and the environment an important service. As they search for food, bees carry pollen from flower to flower, making reproduction possible for the majority of plant species, both wild and farmed. Pollen sticks to their hair and when they visit the next plant, some rubs off, therefore fertilising it. The need for pollination makes bees essential to the production of many fruits and vegetables, the life of pastures and forests, and therefore the nutrition of animals, including ourselves.
Inadvertently, bees ensure biodiversity through their pollination. Not only they help flowers reproduce, but by extension allow more food to grow. As they help flowers, there is more food, and more food means better nutrition for animals and better conditions for biodiversity.
Thanks to bees we can not only fill our pantry but our pockets as well. Going beyond the agricultural sector, they are responsible for providing a cross-industry value. Experts have valued bees’ pollination services alone at an estimate of $28.5 billion US. And they give much more than pollination, adding a few zeros to our tab. We also enjoy honey, bee pollen, propolis, and other products. Even medical research takes advantage of these small pollinators, as it has used beeswax, honey, royal jelly, bee venom and other bee-related products in research and development.
Bees are a fundamental component of the environment. They ensure much of nature’s wonders through pollination and even give some delights for our nutrition and health.
Besides, their biology and behaviour are fascinating. So, wouldn’t a better question be: Why wouldn’t we help bees?