Why do we need the bees?
Bees are essential to our survival. We need bees to keep our plants healthy and to preserve biodiversity. Unfortunately, climate change, global warming, and habitat destruction threaten the survival of bees, so we have to do whatever we can to help support our small, fuzzy, and hard-working friends.
Bees provide the food on our plates!
Bees pollinate 90% of all wild plants and 30% of food crops. For plants to grow, their pollen needs to be transferred from the anther (where pollen is produced in flowers with male parts) to the stigma (the part of female flowers that is receptive to pollen).
Bees help accelerate the pollination process as they buzz around seeking nectar. They carry around bits and pieces of pollen which then get stuck to the sticky part of the stigma, resulting in pollination and food growth. In other words, without bees, this process would happen at a MUCH slower rate, killing off several plant species and directly impacting food availability.
Not only do bees help to feed us through their hard work, but they, themselves, are also a food source within the food chain. Several birds, including hummingbirds and insects, eat bees. Other species, such as possums, also benefit from bees by feasting on the honey that they make in their beehives.
We need bees to preserve biodiversity.
The decline in the bee population negatively impacts the survival of different plant species, which in turn threatens to diminish biodiversity. Biodiversity is important because it supports disease and pest regulation, soil fertilization, and ensures food availability. Without bees to pollinate plants and fulfill their role in the food chain, our grocery bags would be nearly empty, and our ecosystem would fail to flourish resulting in a domino effect of species extinction.
Why are the bees at risk?
The number of bees around the world are in decline due to global warming, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, pollution, and the increased use of pesticides. For instance, global warming can cause flowers to bloom early, resulting in food shortages for the bees.
What can we do?
Luckily, there are several easy actions you can take to support the survival of the bees.
1) Plant bee-friendly flowers! 💐 🌺 Bees love diversity in their diets, just like us. Include a wide variety of flowers that are both vibrant and local native plants. Bees are especially attracted to purple, which makes planting flowers such as hollyhocks, foxgloves, and lavender especially beneficial. It is also helpful to plant flowers that are tubular shaped or have open blooms, such as cosmos, that make it easy for bees to crawl inside for nectar.
2) Replace pesticides with natural solutions such as water sprays with garlic or salt🧂 Make sure to watch out for weed killers that claim to be nontoxic when they are actually equally harmful to animals and humans alike! Commercial pesticides can damage the nervous systems of bees causing disorientation which can i the bee’s ability to find its way back home.
3) Support local beekeepers! 🐝 💛 local honey is healthier, tastier, and supports bee protection. Unlike commercialized bee industries, local beekeepers help increase bee diversity by allowing queen bees to mate naturally.
4) Let the weeds grow! 🌱 Why are weeds good for bees? Bees need access to a variety of pollen to survive. Dandelions, creeping thyme, bee balm, and creeping Charlie are all weeds that help bees flourish and attract both bees and butterflies to your garden. 🦋
5) Create a bee bath in your garden.🛁 Bee baths can help rehydrate bees after a long day’s work of collecting nectar and pollinating. Make sure to provide fresh water and stones or pebbles to provide a surface for the bees to rest while enjoying their bath!
If we all do our part, we can help bees thrive once again and support the existence of life on Earth. Join the conversation and let us know if you have any of your own tips.
BBC. (2022, February 24). Why are bees so important? BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/ztj88hv
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). What would happen if all the bees died? Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/story/what-would-happen-if-all-the-bees-died
Top 10 flowers and plants for bees. Thompson & Morgan. (2022). https://www.thompson-morgan.com/top-10-plants-for-bees
5 ways bees are important to the environment. Canada's leading Lawn and Garden Manufacturer. (n.d.). https://www.pthomeandgarden.com/5-ways-bees-are-important-to-the-environment/