Why Bees are Important to You

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If you spend anytime outside, chances are you have experienced an encounter with a bee. Hopefully, it was not a stressful event but rather the joy of seeing these hard working insects doing their thing. They may be small in size but they matter a lot. This article strives to help you understand why bees are important and all the advantages they bring to our lives.

Honey bee an important pollinator on flowers image.

If you are well-versed in common honey bee facts – you know they contribute a lot to our world. They are certainly not the only valuable pollinators around. But, they deserve our care and respect.

How Bees Shape Our World

Some live in large families with thousands of members – such as a beehive. Others, like the Bumble bees, maintain smaller numbers in the nest of only a few hundred. And, some are solitary insects that go it alone.

With some variation due to differences between species, they are all involved in making our world better. We recognize that bees are important for several reasons:

  • ecological role
  • biodiversity benefits
  • pollination and agriculture

Ecological Role of Honey Bees

Bees are small insects that serve as essential pollinators. When honey bees collect nectar from flowers, they unintentionally transfer pollen from one flower to another, allowing plants to produce seeds and fruits.

This process, known as pollination, is the cornerstone of biodiversity and ecological balance. Of course, many native bees also pollinate the wild plants that produce seeds for wild birds and berries for mice and lizards.

In the food chain, some of these berry eating animals are then consumed by larger beasts – creating an ecological balance.

Wild bird enjoy ample berry harvest on shrub.

Biodiversity Benefits

One of the benefits of beekeeping is an increase in plant diversity in your area. Having more bees available to pollinate plants results in a wider variety of plants and seeds.

This improves the nutrition of all connected life forms and make more nesting sites available for other insects, birds etc. While many native plants are wind pollinated, some do benefit from insect pollination.

In years past, honey bees aided even more in the pollination of fruits for wildlife. This was before the influx of varroa mites (parasites), wiped out practically all the wild colonies. In some areas, they are making a comeback.

Honey bee hives set to pollinate lavender crop image.

Pollination & Agricultural Impact

In the United States, a very small percentage of people produce food. Modern agriculture practices are based on the idea of specialization – huge fields of a single crop.

When a large crop field is in bloom, a huge number of pollinators are needed quickly. The bloom will not last forever. No area would have enough native pollinators to get the job done in time.

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This is where the importance of honey bees comes into play. Boasting large colonies with thousands of workers, honey bee colonies can be moved from field to field as needed.

Some beekeepers make a living in migratory beekeeping – trucking colonies from field to field. In our agricultural system, honey bee pollination contributes millions of dollars to the food industry each year.

This helps farmers increase the yield of their crop fields. Some of your favorite fruits and vegetables need bees for pollination: apples, strawberries, cucumbers, broccoli, almonds, etc.

Honey bee pollinating flower on almond tree.

Bees as Environmental Indicators

Researchers confirm a sharp decline in many pollinator species in recent years. When an ecosystem is experiencing problems due to pollution, lack of habitat or other problems, a decline in pollinators is one of the first signs of trouble.

If they are not doing well, we want to know why. This provides an opportunity to analyze current conditions and look for ways to make things better.

It is no secret that honey bees have been facing serious challenges in recent years. We know that an influx of various pests of honey bees have had a negative affect. But, what affects honey bees may also affect bumble bees and other native pollinators.

While some issues may be beyond out control, there are things we can do to help save bees. Creating better bee habitats and restricting pesticide use is a beginning.

Products Derived from Bees

Even the early colonists understood the importance of bees. They brought German Black Honey Bees to the New World on ships.

That could not have been an easy journey. But, the new colonists wanted the benefits that having their own hives would bring.

Bees were such an important part of their lives that they would often tell the bees of major life events such as deaths, marriages etc.

  • bee pollen
  • honey
  • beeswax

Bee Pollen

Bees use pollen as a protein source needed to raise young. As pollen is unintentionally moved from plant to plant, pollination occurs. This results in any nearby gardens producing more vegetables and fruits.

Beyond pollination, some people actually consume bee pollen. Its used as a food supplement for humans dating back to the Middle Ages.

Honey

For the most popular product from honey bees – we must mention honey. In fact, the honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the only insect in the world that directly produces food for humans.

Worker bees make honey from plant nectar. Not only do we consume it – there are hundreds of different uses for honey to explore.

Beeswax

Often overlooked, beeswax is a very valuable hive product. Beeswax is made by adult honey bees and used to create the honeycomb structure inside the hive.

Making beeswax candles is a common practice among beekeepers. However, the uses for beeswax are practically endless. From cosmetics to furniture polish, beeswax is a product that must not be overlooked.

Reasons honey bees are important chart.

FAQs

Are honey bees the most important pollinators?

Honey bees are the most important pollinators for modern agriculture. This is due to the fact that they live in large families and are easy to move from crop to crop. However, other pollinators are extremely critical to our environment – perhaps more so than honey bees.

Why are so many bees dying?

Our bees are facing a multitude of problems including: habitat loss, nutritional deficiencies, pollution, changing climates and pesticide exposure.

Would we starve without bees?

Most of the major food crops (corn, wheat, rice and soybeans) are wind pollinated. They do not rely on bee pollination.

Hence, the statement that “without bees we will starve” is not as simple as it sounds. No, we would not starve (at least not right away) but we may get tired of eating the same thing. Our diet would certainly be affected.

Why do some people say we can’t live without bees?

If we lost all of our bees, we would lose the plants that rely on them for pollination. Then, we might lose the animals that rely on those plants. This causes problems all up the food chain with more problems than we might think.

What are bees so important to humans?

Bees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of the foods humans like to eat, they also contribute to ecosystem biodiversity.

Final Thoughts

Bees are important – all bees. Both native bees and our hard-working honey bees. In recent years, it is clear that they are facing some major struggles. Honey bees are not endangered but some of the challenges facing them also affects other pollinations. Let’s do everything we can to help our pollinators and reap the benefits of a bee-utiful world for years to come.

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