No, but celebrating bees, and what they do for us, is!
Forget about honey, pollen and royal jelly. Just think of a world without beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots, not to mention the hundreds of other vegetables, oilseeds and fruits that are dependent upon bees for pollination. And the livestock that are dependent upon bee pollinated forage plants, such as clover.
Karen Heron, founder of food waste management company Earth Probiotic explains, “If bees didn’t exist in our world today, it would look like a very different place – and our lives wouldn’t be nearly the same either.” These industrious insects have been around for roughly 125 million years and although bee numbers are sadly declining, the remaining survivors continue to act as invaluable resources to our planet and its other residents in numerous ways.
Bees benefit plants by assisting with their propagation :
- Insect pollinators such as bees and flower-bearing plants are the perfect example of a symbiotic relationship in nature – two species, both have something the other
needs which they then cooperatively share alike, thus benefiting both.
- Bees need pollen and nectar for food and honey making; flowers need their pollen transported to other flowers, and then another flower’s pollen brought back to it in order to reproduce and make seeds. By merely traveling from flower to flower, bees effortlessly accomplish these needs of both parties.
- Honeybees, scientifically also known as Apis mellifera, which mean “honey- carrying bee”, are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators.
Bees benefit humans by providing agricultural services:
- You can thank a pollinator for one out of every three bites of food you eat, as insect pollinators are needed for approximately 35% of all food production globally. Honeybees pollinate about 50 crops in South Africa such as apples, asparagus, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, celery, cherries, citrus crops, cranberries, cucumber and melons, just to name a few, and this pollination is worth approximately R10,3 billion per annum.
- An estimated 80 percent of food in grocery stores, is available on the shelves thanks to bee-pollinated crops.
- For fruit and nut crops, pollination can be a grower’s only real chance to increase yield. The extent of pollination dictates the maximum number of fruits. Post- pollination inputs, whether growth regulators, pesticides, water, or fertiliser, are actually designed to prevent losses and preserve quality rather than increase yield.
- When pollination is this important, farmers can’t depend on feral honeybees that happen to nest near crop fields. That’s why farmers contract with migratory beekeepers, who move millions of beehives to fields each year just as crops flower. Pollinating California’s 420,000 acres of almond trees alone takes between 900,000 and 1 million honey bee colonies. Bees benefit all living things by acting as environmental indicators
- The mysterious decline in bee populations worldwide is a clear sign of something going awry in the environment.
- One of the prime suspects of bee die-offs is a dangerous new group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. These pervasive killers are found in crops from corn to almonds, and in products around the average home like pet flea treatments and lawn care products. They are believed to damage the immune systems of bees, rendering them unusually susceptible to disease.
- Like the crashing bird populations just a few decades previously when DDT was poisoning our ecosystems, the startling but steady world die-off of bees is a clear indicator of something unhealthy and unbalanced occurring in our environment.
- For so long we have relied on bees for their incredible food-producing superpowers and the byproducts of their laborious work and the loss of honey bees would mean the collapse of the natural ecosystem. The value of bees aside from the simple production of honey cannot be underestimated.
Bees are the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
- Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life,
including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water.
- It’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with
improved brain functioning.