These tiny Insects are the most fascinating creatures of all time. In this article, we raise awareness of the importance of bees, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development.
On our planet, there are over 20,000 known bee species. They range from the tiny (2 mm) and solitary Perdita minima, known as the world's smallest bee, to kumquat-sized species of carpenter bees. Some species, including honey bees (probably the most well-known of the social bees because they produce honey), bumblebees, and sting-less bees, live socially in colonies and hives while some other species, including mason bees, carpenter bees, leaf-cutter bees, and sweat bees, are solitary.
How the bees help us on a daily basis?
Bees are busy workers. They are responsible for the production of many seeds, nuts, berries, and fruits, which serve as a vital food source for wild animals. They support the growth of a variety of plants, which serve as food and shelter for creatures large and small. And there is no doubting the importance of bees to our food supply. Without them, our gardens would be bare and our plates empty.
Another important task for the bees is: Pollination.In fact, pollinators like bees play a key role in one out of every three bites of food we eat. Without them, many plants we rely on for food would die off and our ecosystem would not be the same.
Now let’s talk more about pollination:
In few words, pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from the male parts of the flower, the anther, to the female parts of the flower, the stigma. Pollination can occur between flowers on the same plant or from the flower of one plant to the flower of another of the same species.
Pollination is very important for plants because it helps on the genetic diversity, the more diverse the better.
A population of high genetic diversity can survive a wider range of threats and changing conditions than a population of low genetic diversity.
Pollination results in:
- The production of fruits, seeds, and subsequent plants that are produced from agriculture and for the purpose of feeding livestock.
- Maintains and increases diversity within and between native species of plants. As pollination increases the diversity within plant species may support the emergence of new compounds that may be useful in food or medicine.
But sadly, the bee populations are in decline. The climate change is a big factor, of course, but not only… here are the reasons why:
⁃ Due to a growing human population, pollinators are now needed more than ever to support agriculture.
⁃ Bees suffer habitat loss from urban development, abandoned farms, and the lack of bee-friendly flowers. And ...
⁃ Not to forget that some colonies collapse due to plants and seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, or harmful parasites like mites.
The loss of these super pollinators can lead to food and nutrition shortage because many crops that contain a wide variety of nutrients that humans depend on require animal pollination.
What we can do to help bees? We have few ideas:
- Plant a Bee Garden: this will help the bees get enough food in order to keep their energy.
- Plant Trees: trees mean habitat for the bees also!
- Cut The Chemicals
- Support Local Beekeepers
- Build Bee Homes: to help solitary and wild bees (especially in cities) to find a shelter lay their eggs.
Bee houses (also called bee hotels), are the home of solitary bees. Unlike honey bees, these solitary bees are extremely docile and up to three times more effective as pollinators. The house is made from a bundle of bamboo tubes that provide a place for solitary bees to reproduce and gather pollen and nectar for their young. After laying eggs, the adults die, leaving a new generation to take over.
Here are some tips on how to care for a bee house:
⁃ It should be located in an area protected from high winds and rain.
⁃ The front of the house should have a south or southwest exposure where it will get the most sun in winter to keep bees warm.
How it works?
According to Gardners.com, “After bees mate, the female places eggs in the bamboo tubes. Each egg is separated by nectar and pollen.
After the pollen and nectar is placed, the female places a mud plug in the tube, then repeats the process with more eggs, pollen, nectar and plugs. When the tube is full, she finishes with a heavy mud plug and her work is done.
In the spring, the mature bees emerge from the tubes. Males exit first. Females emerge after males because the eggs are placed deeper in the tubes. This is a protective measure, assuring a good female population to help keep the species going.”
Bees are genius! And here are some picture of my bees hotel :)
We all depend on the survival of bees. They are very important player in our ecosystem. Let’s protect bees and build a future proof planet!