Bees are essential for human life on this planet, but the sad (and alarming!) truth is that they are rapidly dying out. To help protect and save these wonderful creatures, it is of the utmost importance that we understand what it is exactly that makes bees so amazing and so integral for life.  There are more than 20,000 species of bees in the world today, indigenous to different areas all over the planet, and all of these types of bees offer their own unique contribution to planet earth.

Food Production
All bees are pollinators and pollinators are essential for crops, from fruit and veg to coffee and tea, to be able to thrive.

There is a famous quote from Albert Einstein “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years left to live” and this might be quite true!

Bees are renowned for their role in providing high-quality food (honey, royal jelly and pollen) and other products used in healthcare and other sectors (beeswax, propolis, honey bee venom). But the work of bees entails much more!

The greatest contribution of bees and other pollinators is the pollination of nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90% of the world’s food. A third of the world’s food production depends on bees, i.e. every third spoonful of food depends on pollination. Many domestic and imported fruits and vegetables require pollination. Examples include avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, and sunflowers for oil, cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwis, cherries, cranberries and melons. For crops such as blueberries and almonds, the honey bee plays an essential role in pollination of commercial crops.

In addition, honey bees play a significant role in the pollination of other important crops such as cotton and flax.

Bees as an integral part of the food chain

However, what is often ignored is the fact that bees also pollinate foods eaten by other animals and birds. Birds and mammals may rely on berries, seeds and also some fruits and nuts.  It has to be said that some domesticated animals also benefit from pollination too – cows, for example, eat alfalfa which is pollinated by bees, and bees therefore play a vital role in the whole food chain!

Biodiversity and environmental protection

Bees are also vital for the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity in nature. By acting as pollinators, they protect and maintain ecosystems as well as animal and plant species, and contribute to genetic and biotic diversity.

Bees also act as indicators of the state of the environment. Their presence, absence or quantity tells us when something is happening with the environment and that appropriate action is needed. By observing the development and health of bees, it is possible to ascertain changes in the environment and implement the necessary precautionary measures in time.

As a result, honey bees especially provide an opportunity to judge longer term environmental effects, since they are one of the few insect species which produce colonies which are meant to survive for multiple years, rather than short term colonies with only a few colony members (usually the new queens) surviving.

Bees Beautify the Planet

Last but not least, pollinating flowers and contributing to the beautification of the planet’s floral landscapes may be the bees’ perhaps simplest and least economically important actions, but it’s certainly its most aesthetically pleasing one. By keeping flowers pollinated, bees perpetuate floral growth and provide attractive habitats for other animals such as insects and birds.

Bees are easily amongst the most important insects to humans on Earth. These humble, buzzing bugs deserve a huge thanks – for helping provide us with our favourite fruits and vegetables, their delicious honey, and beautiful, flowery gardens!