It takes more than sunshine, water, and soil to make the planet green. You will be surprised to know that at least 90% of all plants and 30% of the world’s crops require cross-pollination to spread and thrive. And guess what? Bees play a vital role in keeping the environment healthy and the global economy thriving. Bees are perfectly adapted to pollinate. They contribute to complex, interconnected ecosystems, allowing a diverse range of species to co-exist. As pollinators, bees are crucial to every aspect of the ecosystem. For starters, they support the growth of flowers, trees, and other plants, which serve as shelter and food for both small and large creatures. In short, without them, our plates would be empty and gardens bare.
Sadly, the bee population is increasingly declining. Factors like pollution, use of technology, etc., are all causing bees to die, and if we want to ensure the survival of humans, among other animals and flora, they must be saved.
Why are bees Important?
According to research, there are more honey bees globally than other types of bees and pollinating insects. Hence, they emerge as the world’s most vital pollinators of food crops. One-third of the food humans consume every day relies on pollination, particularly by bees.
Many imported and domestic vegetables and fruits you eat require pollination. From melons to cranberries, cherries, kiwis, peaches, citrus fruits like lemon and oranges, cucumbers, sunflowers for oil, squash, celery, broccoli, asparagus, soybeans, avocados, and more, these are some essential food sources that rely on pollination by bees. Also, for the commercial production of crops like almonds and blueberries, honey bees play a vital role. It is estimated that about 80% of crops produced in the US are dependent on honey bees.
There are implications for the dairy and meat industry as well because honey bees also pollinate alfalfa and clover, which are fed to the cattle. Above all, don’t just forget the huge variety of food products made from these raw materials.
Apart from things we eat, other important crops like cotton rely on pollination by bees. Honey bees are also responsible for producing valuable products like beeswax that are substantially used in the beauty industry as well as for manufacturing cleaning products.
Types of Bee
There are about 200,000 species of bees globally, and not all of them are the same. They have different characteristics. The majority of honey bees are domesticated and kept in colonies of managed hives by beekeepers. And the rest of the bees are wild, including 220 types of solitary bees and 25 types of bumblebees. Similar to honey bees, bumblebees live in social colonies.
But some bee species prefer a solitary life. Bees like leafcutter bees, mason bees, and mining bees tend to nest on their own. Female solitary bees build and supply their own nest with adequate food. They usually nest in walls, banks, and dead woods.
Some interesting facts about honey bees
As a naturalist, honey bees may appeal to you as they are our planet’s most fascinating creatures. They live an interesting life that revolves around collecting nectar, making honey, assigning a queen, breeding with the queen, replacing the queen if a new queen arrives, and protecting the hive. There are some interesting facts about honey bees that will draw your attention even more towards these amazing insects.
- Bees transfer pollen between female and male parts, allowing plants to grow fruit and seeds.
- Honey bees live in colonies, also known as hives. The members of the colony are categorized into three groups:
- Queen Bee: The queen bee runs the entire colony. Her primary role as the king of the hive is to produce more offspring that will spawn the colony’s next generation of bees. Queen bees release a type of hormone or chemical that guides the behavior of other bees in the hive.
- Worker Bees: Worker bees are the all-female bees who do the actual hard work of foraging through fields for food. And not only just food, but worker bees build and protect their colony, circulate air to keep the hive cool (they do this by beating their wings), and clean the hive to avoid any contamination.
- Drones: Drones are the male bees who are just there for mating purposes. They mate with the new queen. While there are several hundred drones living in a hive, they are the first to be kicked out of the colony when things get tougher for the hive, such as harsh winters or when there is a shortage of food and feeding the larva is a priority.
- Honey bees beat their wings 200 times per second, flying at a speed of 25 kilometers per hour.
- An average worker bee lives only for 5-6 weeks. During its entire lifetime, a worker bee will produce only a pinch (twelfth of a teaspoon) of honey. However, a queen bee can live for about 5 years and can lay up to 2500 eggs in a day.
Over the last decade, many bee colonies have been destroyed. It is our job to keep these little insects protected so that our planet continues to thrive.