That Buzzzzzz sound which mostly gets us afraid due to the fear of getting a sting! Right?
We mostly prefer to have a variety in our day-to-day meals that we consume. Let it be in vegetables, fruits, or nuts. But have you ever wondered who is responsible for their growth? Farmers? Yes, they are responsible but at the core, it is the bees who are !! they play a major role. All the good stuff that we eat need honeybee pollination.
It is estimated that over a third of all the food grown on this planet is pollinated by bees. They bring vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats right to your table. Our food system is threatened by the fact that bees are in trouble. Food that we take for granted would just stop existing or the production would be decreased if the bees go extinct. Food that includes onions, pumpkins, apples, and the plants that are used for feeding the livestock.
Role of bees
Bees play a vital role in building the ecosystem. They provide a plethora of economic and environmental benefits to the planet earth. What are these benefits? Do you know them?
Here you go…
1. Bees maintain a healthy ecosystem.
2. Highly responsible for the majority of our food crops.
3. They help beautify the planet with flowers as it is responsible for 80% of flowering plant growth
4. As everyone knows they produce honey & bee wax for us.
5. Plays a vital role in the huge part of the global food economy
6. They are global pollinators.
7. Sustains the diverse livelihoods around the world
Pollination is the process which helps to achieve these. During the process, they fed on the flowers to get the pollen which is a source of protein and the nectar which is the source of carbohydrate for the bees. While they collect the nectar from the flowers, they also transfer the pollen (from the male part of the flower) to the female part of the flower which helps in the seed development.
Honeybees are not the only category of the bee, there are almost 20,000 species of bees existing in this world. They are diverse in their colour and sizes.
But what if I tell you that in future you may not have the access to such a variety? Yes, it is a fact.
Reason for their decline
The honeybees have a remarkable defence mechanism which has kept them healthy and thriving for over 50 million years. But during recent years, the global population of honeybees are declining at an alarming rate. There are many reasons which are being blamed for this decline:
1. Land-use intensification: The change in our land usage due to urbanization and increasing population has led to loss and fragmentation of the natural habitat. The wild bees are especially affected due to intense land usage.
2. Intensive farming: The change in farming practices and the use of synthetic fertilizers possess a threat to the bee population.
a. The modern farming methods use pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides to kill the bad insects also affect and kill the good ones like the honeybees. The use of these chemicals results in residue that stays in the pollen which the bees carry as food. They cause the death of the bees or intoxicate the bees due to which it may not find its way back home.
b. The farming practices like monoculture growing has led to the reduction in the number of flowering plants which are food for the bees.
3. Climate Change: Bees are the indicators of climate change and they can’t adapt to this change, unlike the butterflies. The rising temperature and the increasing carbon-dioxide levels are causing a decline in the bee population. The changing temperature causes a change in the blooming pattern of the flowers resulting in a mismatch of the feeding season of the bees while the high CO2 levels make the pollen proteins diluted and unhealthy for the bees.
4. Pathogens: Pathogens like Varroa destructor mites are the major threat to the bee. It sucks the bee’s blood and circulates viruses in it which slowly degrades the health of the bees. Honeybee population are mostly threatened by the Varroa mites.
With the declining pollinators, hand pollination and drones are being employed to do the job of pollination. But this isn’t a good indicator! They can’t replicate the bees.
What can you do?
The bees ask for only two things
1. Food in the form of flowers
2. A nesting places
So, how as an individual you can help these bees? Here are some of the ways:
1. Grow flowers at your backyard, colonies, roadsides, etc. The bees will ensure that they are being carried forwarded and the future generations see the beauty in the environment.
2. Support sustainable bee-friendly farming practices which include no use of pesticides
3. Better land management practices which provide space for the bees for their nesting
4. If you have a swarm of bees at your backyard then instead of calling people to burn it, call a beekeeper or a legal person who can safely remove it
5. Buy locally produced honey and support the beekeepers.
So next time you have a bit of cashews or apple or strawberry or onion or even if you are having a sip of coffee then remember the efforts of bees to get it to your table.
Bees are necessary for our survival, support them and they will in turn support you!
Do read other blogs written by the same author