The Importance of Bees

July 28th, 2015

Bees are a huge part of our continued existence, and one way or another, integral to the British way of life. Currently there are around 25,000 different bee species in the world, divided into 4,000 genera in just nine families. Despite being such a vital part of human life, from food production to propping up the economy, the world’s bee population has been in steady decline for many years. Unfortunately this is just as true in the UK as it is everywhere else, and we’re approaching the point where every bee is vital. While you may or may not be a fan of our hard-working little friends, there is no denying their importance – here are 5 reasons for their importance which we find particularly interesting here at Southern Ecological Solutions.

They pollinate 1/3rd of our food

When you consider that 1/3rd of our food supply is pollinated by bees, pollinating around 70 different types of crop, it makes you realise how important bees are to our food supply. That is a lot of food, and considering there’s a shortage of food as it is, anything which is keeping bee numbers down is a cause for concern. If all of the bees were to suddenly disappear 1/3rd of our food supply would disappear with it.

Seriously – they make honey

Continuing on the vein of food, one colony of 50,000 bees make an average of 14kg of honey every year. This all adds up to the UK’s honey bee population making 6,000 tonnes of honey, contributing £400 million to the British economy. Granted not all £400m of that comes from honey, there’s also wax, propolis and medical applications for the things which bees naturally produce. Either way, that’s a lot of money which we’d be missing out on if the UK’s bee population was to suddenly die out.

They are part of the food chain

While the idea of eating a bee may seem horrific, bees, like almost every other insect on the planet, form part of the food chain. The declining bee population has a knock-on effect which affects more than just our ability to spread honey on toast – bees are preyed upon by everything from kingbirds and mockingbirds to other insects such as beewolves and dragonflies. It’s not uncommon to see spiders snacking on bees in different countries around the world, either.

They’re a big part of Britain and British culture

Whether you’re allergic to bee stings or not, there is no denying the peaceful nature of sitting in a field, watching bees go about their pollinating habits. Not only do they make the countryside a prettier place, but try to imagine your childhood without the wonder of bees – there’d be no watching them with intrigue, there’d be no Winnie the Pooh (the notorious honey-eater), and there’d be fewer flowers to pick and examine. A world without bees just wouldn’t be the same.

We still have a lot to learn from bees

Did you know that bees will only visit one kind of flower per day when out pollinating? This is more efficient, for both the bees and the flower, helping both pollination and the colony’s efficiency in harvesting nectar. This means that the bees have to communicate with each other and decide which type of flower to visit on a given day. How is this done? By dancing. There is a lot that we are yet to learn from bees, and they are absolutely fascinating to study, both as a biologist and as a social scientist.

The number of bees is in decline in the UK, ironically in thanks to the liberal use of pesticides and insecticides in commercial farming. If you have any questions about our hard working, stripy little friends and their ecological importance, don’t hesitate to contact Southern Ecological Solutions today.

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