From hungrily flitting from flower to flower to communicating with fellow bees in a riveting “bee dance,” the tiny bee is certainly a mesmerizing creature to observe. Bees are responsible for many of the foods and products we regularly consume, so let’s take a closer look at exactly how crucial their contribution is to their local environment.
More Than “Liquid Gold“: Although honey, widely noted for its superior natural antiseptic, antiviral, and sweetening properties, nourishes bees and is the basis for “bee bread” and “royal jelly” that feeds the baby bees, bees serve an even more valuable purpose in the environment. Armed with brushes on its agile legs, a generous honey “stomach,” and a pollen sack, the bee is a tiny powerhouse that contributes far more to its surroundings than producing the golden, sticky substance we all recognize and appreciate.
A Pollinating Powerhouse: A bee’s powerful role as a diverse pollinator is critical for the survival of countless species of plants, trees, and flowers. Using the fine hairs on its plump, striped body, a bee can nimbly transport pollen from one place to another with ease. As it feeds on nectar, this pollen naturally brushes off and effectively completes the job of fertilization.
It’s estimated that bees actually frequent around 90% of the earth’s most widely-consumed crops, which is living proof that, without bees, our ecosystem and economy would be severely compromised.
The Sad Truth: Unfortunately, although bees are an essential part of our world, the bee population is on the decline for a variety of reasons. Disease and parasites are two main causes for this, but the loss of bees’ natural habitat and the use of harmful pesticides are equally responsible. With the growth of cities comes the deforestation of plants, trees, and other flowering agents that are crucial to bees. Thankfully, there are simple, sustainable actions anyone can take to safeguard bees for generations to come.
How We Can Help: It’s important for businesses and farms to continue to invest in safer methods of pest control. Adopting organic farming methods and using natural, bee-friendly pesticides are two major ways to help bees thrive in their natural environment. “Bee gardens” are also a popular project for people of all ages. These gardens are attractive to bees because they consist of flowering plants that carry ample pollen and nectar.
The Important of Buying Local: One of the easiest ways to protect our valuable bees is by simply making the choice to support local beekeepers by purchasing their products. By buying local honey and other wax-based items, customers encourage safer, more sustainable beekeeping methods.
Beekeeping collectives form partnerships with local beekeepers to foster growth, invest in research, and link consumers with valuable resources to help the bee population. By connecting with these initiatives that bring in local customers, smaller beekeepers are able to invest in more resources to help keep their hives healthy and flourishing.
A Final Word: By taking one or more of these actionable steps, anyone can play a vital part in keeping our pollinator friends safe and healthy. Buying local, maintaining pollinator-friendly yards, and seeking kind alternatives to harsh chemicals can make a big difference in protecting bees and the ecosystem overall.