Why caring after bees is so important for the planet and us

Tuesday 19 June 2018


I don't like many creatures from the insect family but bees are my top favorite. 
These beautiful and fascinating little insects are vital to a healthy environment and economy.
And here is why and how you can help in saving more bees and taking a step in making the world a better place for us and the new generations to come.

We may take them and other pollinators like butterflies and overflies for granted, but they are vital for stable, healthy food supplies.
They are key to the varied, colorful, and nutritious diets we all need and have come to expect.
Bees are perfectly adapted to pollinate, helping plants grow, breed, and produce food. They do so by transferring pollen between flowering plants and so keep the cycle of life turning.

The vas majority of plants we need for food rely on pollination, especially by bees: from almonds, vanilla, and apples to squashes. Bees also pollinate 80% of the wildflowers in Europe, so our countryside would not be so beautiful and interesting without them.

Unfortunately for us and the planet that needs these little savers so badly, bees are in serious trouble and not many people have paid the right attention to the problem.
Thankfully there is a growing public and political concern at bee decline across the world.
The decline is caused by a combination of stresses:
from loss of their habitat and food sources to exposure to pesticides and the effects of climate change.

More than ever before, we need to recognize the importance of bees to nature and to our lives. And we need to turn that into action to ensure they don't just survive but thrive.
There are so many ways we can support the bees:
from planting more flowers to going to the next level and engaging in beekeeping or by donating to various charities.
I have always admired highly beekeepers, it is a wonderful way to help the bees, contribute to the good of the planet and world and treat family and community to the wonderfully healthy honey.

Bee Info: 

Not all bees are the same. There are over 20 000 known species of bee globally. Around 270 of them have been recorded in the UK. And only 1 of these is the famous Honeybee.
Most Honeybees are kept by beekeepers in colonies of managed hives and the rest are wild, including 25 bumblebees species and more than 220 types of solitary bee.

Thanks to bees we can enjoy a range of foods from apples and pears to coffee and vanilla. And if you are wearing cotton, that's many because the cotton plant your threads came from was pollinated. Guess who?

More than 90% of the leading global crop types are visited by bees. 
(IPBES Pollinators, Pollination, and Food Production The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)

So what is Pollination? 
It is a process or a journey shall I better say.
Bees gather pollen to stock their nests as food for their young. They have a special feature to collect it too. Like Branched hairs called 'scope" or combs of bristles called 'pollen baskets' on their legs. As bees visit plants seeking food, pollen catches on their bodies and passes between plants, fertilizing them, which basically is the Pollination itself.

 Many bees have different characteristics that make them suited to pollinate certain plants.
The early bumblebee's small size and agility allow it to enter plants with drooping flowers such as comfrey. Garden bumblebees are better at pollinating the deep flowers of Honeysuckle( I love that flower so much)  and foxgloves than most other species because their long tongue can reach deep inside them.

Many farmers rely on a diversity of bees to pollinate their produce.
Commercial apple growers benefit from the free pollination services of the Red mason bee. This species can be 120 times more efficient at pollinating apple blossoms than honeybees.

There is evidence that natural pollination by the right type of bee improves the quality of the crop, from its nutritional value to its shelf life. Bumblebees and solitary bees feed on different parts of the strawberry flower and in combination they produce bigger, juicier, and more evenly- shaped strawberries.

In a world, without bees, we would probably survive. But our existence would be more precarious and our diets would be dull, poorer, and less nutritious. And not just for want of honey. 

Loss of pollinators could lead to lower availability of crops and wild plants that provide essential micro-nutrients for human diets, impacting health and nutritional security and risking increased numbers of people suffering from A, Iron, and Folate deficiency.

Governments and food producers talk a lot about food security, yet without bees, our food supply would be insecure. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation ( FAO) identified encouraging pollinators, particularly bees, as one of the best sustainable ways to boost food security and support sustainable farming.

All this natural crop pollination fills pockets as well as our bellies. The global market value linked to pollinators is between $235 billion and $557 billion each year.
In the UK alone, the services of bees and other pollinators are worth £691 million a year, in terms of the value of the crops they pollinate. It would cost the UK at least £1.8 billion a year to employ people to do the work of these pollinators, and bees do it for free.
Yet I feel governments do not value enough these hard workers that bring them so much profit.

Bees are a fantastic symbol of nature. The fact that they are in trouble is a sign that our natural environment is not in the good shape it should be.

Pollinators allow plants to fruit, set seed, and breed. This, in turn, provides food and habitat for a range of other creatures. The health of our natural ecosystems is fundamentally linked to the health of our bees.

Maintaining our native flora also depends on healthy pollinator populations. This includes wildflowers such as poppies, cornflowers, and bluebells, as well as trees and shrubs. The close relationship between pollinators and the plants they pollinate is evident in the parallel declines seen across the UK and Europe. 76% of plants preferred by bumblebees have declined in recent decades, with 71% seeing contractions in their geographical range.

Don't forget Bluebell and Honeysuckle

One of the very important things we should be teaching the coming generations of youngsters is looking after our environment with love and honest care, as we do rely on its benefits.

*Material sourced from "Friends of the Earth" 

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