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Bee Sustainable: Saving Our Planet’s Pollinators

Updated: Jun 1

Bee sustainable saving our planet's pollinators

Could you imagine walking into your grocery store without any food-lined shelves? No, right? Without pollinators like bees, this could be our reality because bees are responsible for plants that provide food for us and other wildlife. They are truly a vital part of many ecosystems.

To learn more about bees' importance, how climate impacts bees, and how we can protect them, stay with me, where you hear about bees' lifecycles from expert Melanie Kirby. Let's get started!

Importance of Bees and Pollinators in Ecosystems

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, food security, nutrition, and environmental health depend on pollination. Bees are one of our primary pollinators and are incredibly important to saving ecosystems. Bees benefit our environment in different ways, including:

1. Biodiversity

We'll start with the most important function: bees serve as pollinators. One study states that 3 out of 4 crops worldwide produce fruit or seeds for us (human consumption) dependent on bees. They play a vital role in plant species by transporting pollen from flower to flower and fertilizing a huge variety of plants and trees.

2. Wildlife Habitats

Bees are popular for their elaborate hives, but they also help build homes for millions of other insects and animals. Their role in growing tropical forests, savannah woodlands, and temperate deciduous forests is beyond discussion. Many tree species, i.e., willows and poplars, couldn’t grow without bees.

3. Food Source

Bees produce honey to feed their colonies during the cold winter seasons. Also, humans harvest honey to serve as a sweet snack. But think about other animals like birds, raccoons, opossums, and insects, which all love to taste this nutritious food. Also, bees themselves are a part of nature's food chain. At least 24 species of birds, like ruby-throated hummingbirds, starlings, and others, prey on bees.

4. Wild Plant Growth

The last but most recognizable ecosystem service, pollination, is responsible for making food production possible, including seeds, fruits, and other edible parts. By doing this, they protect and contribute to genetic and biotic diversity.

5. Economic Importance

Apiculture is the most popular industry of beekeeping. It involves managing and caring for honey bees. Bees produce various well-known products, such as honey, bee pollen, beeswax, and more.

However, have you ever noticed your own garden, which is home to different tiny creatures? If bees disappear from mother nature, the animals that depend on plants will also vanish.

Types and Traits of Bees

Types and traits of bees

The estimated types of bees are 20,000 species, which are classified into seven distinct families and divided into three broad groups as per bees' tongue length: proboscis. The long-tongued ones are known to sip nectar from deep within the floral chambers, while the short ones tend to be more ancient and close.

Among the estimated species of bees, appx. Two hundred fifty are bumblebees, 500-600 are stingless bees, and 7 are honeybees. The remainder are solitary bees.

Seven Distinct Bee Families

Biologists classify all bee species into - Apidae, Halictidae, Megachilidae, Andrenidae, Colletidae, Melittidae, and Stenotritidae families.

However, to identify bees, you need to look for their color, size, behavior, and habitat. Are you curious to learn more about bee species or varieties? If so, you can explore BestBees bee types.

How Bees Help Humans Health and Environment?

How bees help humans health and environment

As you notice, bees are significant for many reasons and contribute to human health. Curious to think about bees' role in humans, the planet, and food supplies.

Nearly 90% of flowering plant species on the planet require pollinators to provide a food system for wildlife, create shelter for animals, and more. Without bees, there would be no products containing honey, coffee, chocolate, almonds, milk, and beef, which would be in short supply.

Yes, pollinators are responsible for plants that feed cattle.

Impact of Changing Seasons and Temperature

Climate change and temperature affect various aspects of bee's behavior, biology, and overall health. Key impacts are:

  • Forging patterns: Bees naturally stay in the hive during cold seasons to conserve energy. As the temperature rises in spring and summer, they come out. Temperature fluctuations can impact the development of bee larvae and pupae.

  • Survival and health: Extreme heatwaves or cold spans can risk bee colonies. Heat stress can increase susceptibility to diseases and even death.

  • Pollination timing: Climate change or seasonal effects impact flowering plants, affecting the availability of nectar and pollen for bees.

  • Long-term effects: It affects floral resource availability and increases threats like habitat loss, pesticides, and pathogens.

How can We Protect Bees?

As we all know, honey has several health benefits, such as strengthening the immune system, nourishing the skin, being an energy booster, and more. Without bees, we can’t imagine beautiful nature. So, to save the bees, we can:

  • Landscape with pollinator-friendly plants.

  • Avoid using pesticides and herbicides

  • Protect important habitats.

  • Remove swarms responsibly.

  • Advocate for pollinator-friendly legislation.

  • Support local beekeepers.

  • Add a pollinator garden to your space.

  • Plant flowering trees.

  • Educate yourself and others on bees and pollinators.

Lessons from Bees

According to a Michigan State University article, “It has often been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat.”

Melanie’s lessons from bees - “If you want too fast go alone” and “If you want too far go together.”

Her honey bee hives have taught her invaluable Life Lessons, such as:

  1. Work with the community: All the bees need to support the hive, keep out the predators, and set up a colony for future success. The word goes with also for humans too.

  2. Acknowledge the food system: Everyone should know where our food comes from and how it is produced.

  3. “Bee” the best for the time you are on earth: During the daytime, the worker bees work hard to gather as much pollen for the hive as possible. Their time on earth is limited and precious for the earth.

  4. Defend your family against outside forces: Bees are great at protecting the hive from predators, but they need help from beekeepers to be safe as the number of predators grows. Like bees, we can seek help from others to save our family.

  5. Plan for the Future: Bees need to survive in the winter and work hard to collect more honey for all. So, do your job and give the best effort for the good times.

Melanie’s Story as a Beekeeper

Zia queenbees farm

Melanie is the co-founder of Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute, who specializes in breeding regionally-adaptive bees. She is a Fulbright-NatGeo Storytelling fellow and a Grist 50 Climate Fixer with a graduate degree in Entomology. She collaborates across cultures and landscapes, promoting the whole system for pollinator conservation.

Are you curious to learn more from Melanie's beekeeper experiences and how she connects culture and beekeeping? Click the podcast link and listen with your family.

Wrap Up

Save the bees not only to protect the earth but also us. Bees are the most important pollinators for food crops - each day, we rely on these pollinators and our ecosystem, too. We can’t think of nature and us without bees. So, be thankful and protect them for the overall environment.

Join Zach as We the Children, explore more about Bee Sustainable, different climate phenomena, and learn from experts and leaders in the global warming fields. Stay Tuned!

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