The importance of bees has not been brought to our attention enough in the past few years. Did you know there are over 20,000 different bee species in the world? There are 270 different types in the UK alone! With so much diversity, the bee population is irreplaceable in the ecosystem.
But why are bees important? To the uneducated, bees are a stinging, buzzing nuisance that sends people screaming after an encounter. Bees are so much more than that, though! These fuzzy, yellow-striped flying insects are invaluable to our environment and ecosystems.
Though they sometimes get a bad rep, bees have a much more significant environmental impact than they get credit for. Without them, our ecosystems would be amiss. Read on to find out not only the importance of bees but how to help them too.
It’s no secret that bees are pollinators. In fact, there are many types of pollinators in our ecosystem. Sometimes the wind acts as a pollinator. Other times, animals like birds, bats, and different kinds of flying insects pollinate as well.
Bees, however, are our most crucial pollination asset. Where other animals pollinate enough to get food for themselves, bees go further. Bees can carry more pollen thanks to their scopae, also known as “pollen baskets.” While bees take pollen to take back to their hive, the excess rubs off on other plants and flowers and pollinates them. Talk about efficiency!
What’s even more fascinating about bees is how their pollination is specialized based on the species. While we may think all bees pollinate all plants and flowers, some are better equipped for different vegetation than others. Because of their long tongues, Garden honey bees pollinate honeysuckle and foxgloves much more efficiently than other bee species.
When thinking of the importance of bees, it’s natural to feel that they mostly pollinate flowers, but isn’t true. Depending on the species, bees have much more to do with agriculture than we may have been initially led to believe. For example, Red Mason Bees pollinate apple blossoms and trees much more effectively than regular honey bees.
The natural pollination that occurs because of bees is better for the plants too. Produce that’s been naturally pollinated by specific bees turns out even more nutritious and delicious. Strawberry plants pollinated by bees have produced juicier, more giant, more homogeneously shaped strawberries!
Bees are also responsible for the pollination of other vegetables, fruits, and livestock crops. Without bees, our batches of apricots, tomatoes, almonds, cucumber, asparagus, and broccoli would suffer immensely. Why are bees important to livestock? Farmers rely on bees to pollinate their alfalfa and clover to feed their livestock.
How to Help
Although bees are invaluable to our ecosystem, farming, and gardening practices, they’re in danger! Between harmful parasites and pesticides, if we don’t do something soon, we may have to adjust to life without bees. Here’s how you can help revive the dwindling bee population.
Improve Your Garden
To keep bees alive and well, you can make a few simple changes to your garden. Start by planting bee-friendly plants and flowers. This will encourage them to show up and pollinate, help them find food, and help you improve your garden’s health! Plants like foxglove, birdsfoot, trefoil, and red clover are sure to bring helpful bees to your backyard.
You can also shelter bees in your garden by having a bug and insect home. The image that comes to your mind probably resembles a birdhouse, which is not far off from the truth. Bug and insect homes are wooden and full of lots of different nooks and crannies for bees to hide. Utilizing one of these will give bees a place to relax until they leave to pollinate more flowers and plants. They don’t call them “busy bees” for nothing!
Don’t use pesticides! You may think you’re helping keep unwanted pests away from your garden, but you’re hurting its natural ecosystem. It’s better for you to leave your plants untouched and let nature take its course by having bees and other helpful insects serve as your garden’s pest control.
Why are bees important? They’re everywhere and help everything! The more important question is, what are you doing to help the bees? Even with the improvements you can make to your garden, that won’t be enough to save the bees completely.