Why Bees Are Important to People and Planet: Both human and environmental health depend on bee populations. Bees are essential for the production of food because of their role as pollinators and the medical benefits of honey and other goods.
Over 4,000 of the 20,000 bee species that are known to exist in the world are indigenous to the United States. Few of these are managed by humans, and most of the species are wild.
Bees are valued not only for their honey, but also for helping to ensure food security and diversity in both plants and animals. But as urbanisation and the usage of pesticides increase, bee populations are declining, which has a negative impact on many ecosystems on Earth.
Honey production would be impacted by the loss of bees, but more crucially, so would biodiversity and global food security. The world may look very different if not for them.
Why are bees so crucial?
Bees are important for a variety of reasons. They are significant historically, benefit human health, and support thriving ecosystems.
Although not all bees make honey, it is one of the key factors in why people love bees. It is a natural sweetener with a variety of potential health benefits.
Since ancient times, people have used bees and bee-related items for therapeutic purposes. Researchers have taken note of assertions that it possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer effects.
Honey is used in traditional medicine to cure a wide range of illnesses. Although many of these applications lack scientific support, they include:
- eye conditions
- respiratory asthma
- throat ailments
- invasion of worms
Another significant item that has historically been utilized for waterproofing and fuel is beeswax. It now offers health advantages and is present in many skincare products. Pharmaceutical businesses also make use of it.
Other items made by bees that are advantageous to human health include:
- Propolis is a resin made by bees.
- honey bread
- apiary pollen
- monarch jelly
- sting poison
Scientists discovered proof that melittin, a component of honeybee venom, might eradicate cancer cells in a 2020 studyReliable Source.
It has become apparent in recent years that the importance of bee protection may not be centred on honey production. This is because bees are essential to pollination, using their body hair to transport substantial grains of pollen between plants.
If animals assist in pollination, almost 75% of crops provide better results. Bees are the most important pollinators of both cultivated and wild plants among all animals. They visit more than 90% of the top 107 crops in the world. In other words, many plants, especially food crops, depend on bees for their growth.
Beekeeping has been practised for millennia by people all over the world. The direct collection of honey and beeswax as well as cultural beliefs account for the significance.
For instance, bees were regarded as a sign of immortality by the Ancient Greeks. New England beekeepers in the 19th century would tell their bees of any significant societal occurrences. Beeswax was used by the indigenous people of northern Australia to create rock art.
For historians, bee products are an important component of archaeologyReliable Source. This is owing to the fact that beeswax creates a “chemical fingerprint” that can be used to distinguish between different organic residue components.
Environment and society
Bees are highly intelligent, and people have used their social connections and mannerisms as inspiration for human endeavours.
For instance, academics have proposed that observing bee behaviour could assist professionals in creating emergency plans to evacuate people from a congested area. Scientists can learn where environmental changes are occurring in the environment by watching honeybee dances.
How does this impact people?
A few factors contributing to the decline in bee populations include farming methods, climate change, and illness. The effects on global food supplies, particularly those of fruits, nuts, and vegetables, worry experts.
According to others, there wouldn’t be any nuts, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, apples, or almonds, to mention a few crops, if bees didn’t exist. As these goods are critical suppliers of crucial nutrients, this could result in nutritional inadequacies in the human diet.
Additionally, without bees to give them, it’s possible that the newly discovered medical benefits of bee venom and other bee products will never be available.
The financial benefit of wild bees’ pollination of fruits and vegetables across the United States is substantial. A 2020 study discovered that a sizeable amount of the net income from blueberries was generated by wild bees. Farmers’ economic output and the existence of bees are directly related.
Experts calculated the value of pollination at $34 billion in 2012; a significant share of this sum was attributed to bees.
What could you do to assist?
Gardens and grassy yards can be important sources of food for bees. By providing food and shelter, growing native flowers and letting weeds grow can improve the health and population of bees. By increasing the amount of plant available, reducing landscaping tasks like mowing or pruning can aid bees.
A 2019 study found that in addition to helping the bees, expanding rural areas in metropolitan regions can improve people’s mental and emotional well.
Through citizen science programmes, which encourage individuals to report what they observe in their local region, nonscientists and volunteers can contribute to research. This might assist specialists in comprehending what is taking place in a specific region or nation.
For instance, a citizen-based 2020 studyTrusted Source found that squash bees choose farms with minimal soil disturbance and occupy a wide geographic range.
Additionally, a partnership in New York invited people to observe bees and note the kinds of wildflowers they visited as part of the 2007 Great Pollinator Project.
These discoveries support the search for practical bee protection measures. However, this depends on people being able to correctly identify species. As a result, knowledge of bee species and behaviours can aid people in protecting them.
Because they pollinate plants and generate honey and other medical items, bees are important to culture and the environment. To fertilise and reproduce, plants need to exchange pollen with other plants.
Bees, both domesticated and wild, regulate the quantity and quality of vegetation; when they are healthy, crops also do well. For the safety of our food supply, bees are essential. However, bee populations and welfare are declining globally, and their preservation is crucial to preserving human well-being.