Bees are more than just insects who make sweet and delicious honey. With over 16,000 species of bees; they are found in every continent except Antarctica. They are responsible for most of the pollination that occurs around the world. Although there are other birds, bats and wasps carrying out this process too, bees are the most efficient and effective. Without them, nature would lack vibrance and colours and our meals would lack many food items. Even honey is considered to be an essential form of medicine.
Pollination allows plants to produce seeds. Seeds will grow into plants. This essential ecological cycle is needed for the survival of human beings. Bees perform about 80% of pollination. Our population is at around 7 billion today, and without bees, it would be really hard for plants to adapt and sustain human life. We would face a severe shortage of food without them. Infact, we have already started to lose them.
Habitat loss, change in climate and loss of crop diversity are some of the reasons behind this. Signals from cell phones tend to confuse bees and may end up killing them. The increase in the use of pesticides is also one of the leading causes. We could lose food like apples and avocados. Even dairy products will be affected indirectly. Honey bees even contribute to the economy by pollinating commercial crops like clover.
Bees are also affected by poor nutrition. If bees are not healthy enough, they won’t be able to pollinate. They get their sugars from flowering plants. Mass flowering plants that have commercial uses are treated with fertilizers and bees tend to come in contact with those chemicals. Bees are also exposed to numerous pathogens which affect their health. These affect the bee’s system and interfere with digestion and other vital processes.
Keeping certain plants that are bee-friendly, like mint and rosemary is a great first step in helping them. If you own a backyard, you could let certain weeds like dandelions grow. All these are great food sources for bees. It would be even better if you don’t use pesticides and change to natural methods to keep away other pests. Buying organic foodstuffs will promote farming without pesticides. Even buying honey which has been sustainably harvested from local beekeepers will help. Keeping a small container of a simple solution of water and sugar outside your window will quench their thirst on hot days and energize them. You could even try feeding it to them through a spoon.
Many organizations and initiatives have been set up for the protection of bees. “Under The Mango Tree” is one such organization that promotes beekeeping. They aim at improving the livelihood of farmers in rural India. This is done by teaching them to maintain bees and harvest their honey in a sustainable manner. In May 2020 Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharamam announced the implementation of a Rs. 500 crore scheme for the development of the country’s beekeepers with emphasis on building the capacity of women.
We wouldn’t be able to survive for long without bees. They are an essential component of the ecosystem. Our food supply will be cut into half without them. We thrive on pollination and the ability of bees to improve crop yield and quality. Life without them would be a global disaster.