Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Why are bees vital for our ecosystems, our environment, and even our lives?
The ingredients needed to make a beautiful, thriving, and green environment are soil, sunshine, water, and oh yea, bees. Bees and other pollinators are oh so important for our ecosystems and for ourselves. Unfortunately, we all know that the bee population is rapidly decreasing. There are over 20,000 known species of bees in the world, and all of these bees have different characteristics that allow them to pollinate certain types of plants while other bees pollinate other plants… Why are bees so important and why should we be protecting them, you may ask?
1. Bees are a major component of food production because a vast majority of our plants we use for food rely on bees to thrive and reproduce. If you love melon, apples, honey, broccoli, asparagus, and so many other delicious foods, well then bees are especially important to you. Bees are busy workers and pollinate billions of plants a year, and if bees were to go extinct, then our food productions would diminish, and we wouldn't be able to enjoy some of our favorite foods.
2. Bees are a major part of the animal food chain. If bees were to go extinct then entire animal populations that rely on bees for food may also go extinct. If this happens, it will disrupt ecosystems and will lead to other environmental issues that affect humans as well.
3. Native and wild plants also rely on bees and pollination to thrive. Bees are responsible for the production of many of these plants and pollinate about 80% of plants worldwide.
Why are bees in danger of becoming extinct?
There are many different factors that lead to the diminishing bee population. Both environment and human factors affect bee populations in extreme ways. Climate change is one of the biggest enemies to bees and ecosystems. Climate change, which is both a human and environmental factor, causes flowers to bloom at unusual times throughout seasons which causes a decrease in bees’ food sources at different times throughout a season. Additionally, the loss of habitats from developments for example, causes bees to lose their homes or plants that are vital for survival.
Pesticides are one of the leading factors that cause a decrease in bee population. Farmers use pesticides to protect their crops from harmful insects, however, by doing so, bees are also killed in the process. Neonicotinoids and other pesticides are harmful to bees because they attack a bee’s nervous system which can lead to instant death or disorientation and confusion which prevents them from making it back to their hives.
So now that we all know why bees are important and what causes their diminishing population, we need to learn ways to protect them for future generations. By protecting our bee population, we can help protect our ecosystems and enjoy all the benefits that bees provide for us and the environment! This includes designing bee friendly gardens and pollinator gardens that safely attract bees and allow them to pollinate plants. Pollinator gardens are beautiful, colorful, and vibrant gardens that can also become a learning opportunity for people. When gardening or landscaping your yard, use bee friendly plants that attract them and help pollinate your plants! Other ways to help the bee population is by supporting and using organic farming and gardening techniques rather than harmful pesticides and other chemicals that will kill bees.
Supporting organic farmers can also help protect the bee population. For example, if using honey, buy honey from a local beekeeper whose practices are humane. When gardening or landscaping, do not use pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides that are poisonous to bees. Weeding gardens can also be detrimental to bees since dandelions and other weeds are a good source of foods for bees and other insects. Overall, it is vital to educate yourself on the importance of bees, the reasons for their decline, and on ways to help.
Bees are sometimes taken for granted, but they are critical for stable and healthy ecosystems. So do what you can to help protect bee populations and let them thrive!