Our planet is filled with numerous animals and plants that come in different sizes and shapes. Regardless of how huge or little living beings are, it plays a significant part in maintaining the environment. And bees are also one of them; in fact, honey bees are considered to be one of the essential pollinators. We have different fruits, flowers and others plants thanks to the bees. Bees also provide organic honey that we use at home. Unfortunately, bees are facing a ton of danger from current farming practices and climate change. There has been a lot of effort and public outcry on an international level to save the bees. Following are the few importance of bees to the environment.
1) As pollinators
Pollination is the process of transferring male pollen grain to the female stigma. Seed cannot be formed until the pollen is transferred between the same species of plants or flowers. Bees act as a pollinator for the plants. Bees transfer pollen grains from one flower to another while searching for nectar in flowers. Nectar is the sweet liquid of flowers that is used by bees to make different honey products, such as organic honey or pure honey. Through this process, plants produce and grow food. Every year Bees pollinate billions of plants, including a huge number of agricultural crops. Pollination by bees helps increase in yield of crops. Bees pollinate one-third of our food. They pollinate different fruits like apple, strawberry and blueberry and vegetables such as beans and peas
2) The financial contribution of bees to economy
Honey bees are vital for some agricultural crops; they contribute $15 billion to US crop production alone, as indicated by American Beekeeping Federation. Moreover, the organic honey industry contributes $2 billion to the US GDP. Organic honey is the natural honey produced organically from the pollen of grown plants; it is slightly different from pure honey. According to research, the organic honey industry provides numerous jobs, including directly and indirectly. Directly means hiring workers to move beehives, and indirectly means workers required for supplying and packaging different honey products. In addition to the thriving organic honey market, there is a surge in honey consumption globally. In 2021, the organic honey market is expected to grow more.
3) Bees provide Health products
Honey is people value the main reason bees, even though not all bees can produce honey. This natural sweet substance contains many health benefits. For thousands of years, bees-related products such as organic honey have been used for medicinal purposes. Organic honey contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and antimicrobial properties. In older days, people utilized honey to treat different conditions such as throat infection, bronchial asthma, eye diseases, and many more. Beeswax is another essential product by bees that is used in many skin care and health products. Other bee products that benefit humans are bee pollen, bee venom, propolis, etc. According to research, bee venom contains the substance melittin, which effectively kills cancer cells
4) Food source
Bees make honey to take care of their colonies. Humans utilize different honey products like organic honey, but we are not the only ones who use honey as a food source. Honey served as the food source for different animals such as raccoons, bears, birds and different insects. Bees themselves are the food source for many birds, hummingbirds, blackbirds prey on bees. Insects like spiders, dragonflies also eat bees.
5) Bees benefit biodiversity
Bees play an important part in benefiting every aspect of biodiversity; they provide an interconnected environment for various species to exist together. They provide different honey varieties such as pure honey, organic honey and raw honey. Bees contribute significantly to gardens and the countryside; they thrive wild plants by pollinating wildflowers and shrubs, enhancing the beauty of landscapes and forests. Moreover, pollinated plants grew to be trees and provided shelter and food for wild animals such as insects, birds, and squirrels.
The decline in bees population
The UK has more than two hundred and fifty species of bees. Most common are honey bees, which are kept in hives and overseen by beekeepers, while others are the wild bees. Bees are facing numerous threats in this modern industrialised world that can affect bees species' diversity. According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) list shows that twenty-four per cent of the European bees population is under threat of extinction, despite contributing £690 million to the UK's economy every year. Wales and Scotland have also seen the decline of pollinators in recent years. The most important component in the decline of the bees population is considered to be habitat fragmentation, but climate change also plays a major role in their downfall.
Bilberry Mining Bee is considered to be the most vulnerable species. It gathers pollen from a few types of plants and is found only in the east England side. Along with habitat fragmentation, the decrease in diversity of flowering plants and general loss of flowering has affected bees species. The UK is considered one of the most nature deprived countries and with the deficiency of wild forests. It implies that bees do not have enough wild space in order to flourish. The rare species bees like shrill carder bees need up to twenty square kilometers of surrounding to keep the steady population. Yet currently, they are losing valuable environment at a disturbing rate.
Impact of climate change
Climate change is demonstrated as unpleasant for bees because they battle to adapt to climate extremes. The shifting of seasons has become less predictable, which is the main effect of climate change. Different weather conditions such as cold springs, summer droughts, coastal storms, and prolonged flooding occur more frequently. The quick change in seasons implies that bees lose the synchronicity of the flower or plant they pollinate.
How to save bees?
The vulnerability of bees species increases with habitat fragmentation as they can not grow their ranges. We have to manage and protect bee-friendly spaces such as farmlands, coastal areas, and grasslands. Particularly, in east England, coastal areas are significantly essential. And protection of spaces like soft cliffs, sand dunes, sea walls and saltmarshes should be prioritised.