A common childhood fear is that of bees, and, like most things stemming from youth, said fear often follows into adult life. Therefore, the recently popularized phrase, “save the bees”, may spur up confusion with many asking why it is so important to protect such seemingly menacing creatures. However, we do not give bees credit for all of the work that they do in everyday life.
Bees are known to be the world’s most efficient and effective pollinators. While travelling from plant to plant in search of nectar, they carry the male part of the flower, or stamen, to the female part, or pistil, and thus a new plant is born. Broccoli, melons and apples are but a mere fraction of the plants that are made possible with the help of our fuzzy little friends.
In fact, 90 percent of the world’s plants go through the process of germination, which would not be possible without the ceaseless work of the bee population.
Consequently, global economies are heavily dependent on the effort of these buzzing businessmen. Most of the plants and produce we enjoy are made possible due to the key role bees play in the germination process, their role making international distribution of this type of produce possible.
In addition to their function in humanity, bees are vital in a thriving ecosystem. Trees and plants, which are home to many mammals, birds and insects, are products of the pollination made possible by bees. Also, the honey which bees produce serves as a tasty snack for the majority of said wildlife, not to mention bees being a part of the food chain themselves.
Sadly, bees are dying at an alarming rate. Since the late 1990s, it has been found that at least a quarter of the world’s bees face extinction. The loss of bees would be detrimental to ecosystems and economies worldwide. Intensive agriculture requires the use of insecticides and many other harmful chemicals which kill bees and many other useful insects.
Climate change poses a significant problem as well. An irregular climate can cause bee-friendly flowers to bloom too early or too late in the year, leaving the bees with fewer sources of food. Also, excessive rainfall and intense weather patterns destroy bee habitats, thus leaving them homeless and left for dead.
Now that you know the facts, here is how you can help. Planting bee-friendly flowers and plants, such as mint, tomatoes and sunflowers, can provide bees with the nectar that they require for food, and remember to refrain from using any pesticides or chemicals in your garden that may be dangerous. Also, do not be afraid to let your garden grow freely, as weeds and dandelions are excellent providers of nectar.
If you do not have that much of a green thumb, there is no reason to worry. Buying locally sourced honey and produce can make a world of difference. Buying local ensures that the environments in which the products were produced were not treated chemically, and therefore did not harm any bees. Alveole is a wonderful, Montreal-based beekeeping company that produces a variety of cruelty free honey products, and makes sure to treat their bees with the respect they deserve.
In addition, simple eco-friendly acts, such as recycling, reducing waste and limiting fossil fuel use can positively contribute to reversing the effects of climate change that play a role in the killing of bees.
Take a look around you. All of the beauty that surrounds us, the trees, the flowers, the fresh food we eat, are results of our hardworking bee population. Are you still afraid of bees now? We all have the power for change. Taking action, even if one step at a time, can work towards making the world as sweet as honey.
Written by: Valentina Tsilimidos