If you’ve kept up with the news about the environment, you’ve likely heard that bees were recently declared the most important living beings on the planet by the Earthwatch Institute, an international environmental organization. If you’ve been wondering what is so important about bees, read on.
Worldwide, there are about 20,000 species of bees–and not just honeybees. The last several years have shown a steep decline in bee populations in many countries across the world. The main factors impacting bees, aside from natural bee diseases and invasive species, are climate change, insecticides and lack of flora. If we make changes quickly, we could help bee populations recover. Unfortunately, several bee species have already been added to the list of threatened and endangered animals.
Why Bees are Important
According to a report by Greenpeace, bees help pollinate about 60 to 90% of the various food crops we eat, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and some grains. Without bees to help pollinate these plants, they won’t grow and the world population will begin to experience scarcity of food. Bees also cross-pollinate plants leading to new and novel plant species, which adds to the biodiversity of our planet. Less bees means less biodiversity, which our plantlife needs to thrive. Bees are responsible for much of the diversity and complexity we observe in the world around us.
Also consider the industry revolving around bees and bee-keeping that provides honey, nectar, bee’s wax and bee bread. An entire industry would be on the verge of collapse without honeybees, in particular.
What You Can Do
You can be a bee helper! Be an advocate for bees by avoiding outdoor pesticides as much as possible, planting a variety of bee-friendly plants such as local wildflowers (and less lawn) and buy organic food. You can easily help support your local organic food growers by shopping at farmer’s markets or signing up for organic food community cooperative programs.
Scientists have outlined dire consequences to continued decline of the world’s bee populations. Without bees, there would be no plant-based food produced. In many parts of the world, meat and fish supply is insufficient to meet demands already–a system that would be completely depleted if the world’s population had to rely on meat and fish for survival. Without bees, there would quickly be a catastrophic die off of animals and humans, making bees vital to our planet and our survival as a species.