During springtime, many of us see bees out and about in our gardens, buzzing from one flower to the next. While it’s pretty common knowledge that bees are important for our planet, many do not realise just how important they are, and why.
In this article, we look at the role bees play for our planet, and how we can help them with their mission.
What role do bees play in our ecosystem?
Bees are more than cute, fuzzy critters that love flowers. These little insects are key pollinators for many plants that humans like to chow down on. Australia has many different species of native bees, some that are solitary, and others that are more social. The Australian Native Honey Bee is one insect that is a super important pollinator of a variety of crops, including mangos, watermelons, and macadamias.
According to the Wheen Bee Foundation, one out of every three mouthfuls of food we take depends on bees. The non-native Honey Bee was introduced into Australia, however, these bees mostly pollinate crops that were also introduced, and have become essential to our ecosystem’s needs.
How does this pollination work?
Bees pollinate plants by transferring pollen. To produce crops, many plants need pollen to be transferred from the flower’s male part to its female part. Bees do this as they fly from plant to plant, leaving a sprinkling of pollen behind as they do so. This process is vital for many of the flowers we admire and crops we eat, and is a vital part of the environment as we know it.
Bad news for bees
Bees are vitally important for our ecosystem, and their troubles are a worry for bees themselves, the planet, and us. Many issues are currently affecting bees, including their natural habitats being destroyed, a variety of pest and diseases, and certain farming practices.
These problems are occurring the world over, for example, it is estimated that 97 per cent of wildflower meadows within England and Wales disappeared between the 1930s and 1980s, a sad fact for bees and wildlife who largely relied upon these meadows for food.
Pesticides like neonicotinoids used to control pests on crops have also caused issues for bees. These neonics block the neural pathways in a bee’s central nervous system, which can cause a bee to experience disorientation, an inability to feed, and even death.
How can we help?
After reading all this, you might be thinking ‘oh dear, we’ve got to help these bees, what do we do?!’. Well, luckily, there are a few things the everyman can do to help out the bee population. One of the best things to start doing is to grow some flowering plants within your garden (or on the balcony, for those in apartments!). Another way you can support bees is by buying organic produce, as insect and bird life tends to be more abundant on organic farms.
Bees are highly important to our plants, food production, and ecosystem as a whole. We hope this article has helped you learn a little more about how bees positively impact our planet and what can be done to give them a helping hand with their job!