Bees play an essential role as pollinators, helping to maintain a natural ecological balance. They are also very important to humans because of their ability to produce honey, royal jelly, wax and propolis (also known as bee glue).
Symbiosis between plants and bees
The perfect symbiosis between plants and bees benefits both sides – and is also a great benefit for the planet. The flowers of plants attract bees, which collect nectar and pollen; in return, the bees pollinate the flowers. Bees’ bodies are covered with tiny hairs that catch microscopic pollen grains, which are then transported to other flowers resulting in fertilization and the production of fruit and seeds. Bees are responsible for 80% of all pollination of plants.
Pollination, key to biodiversity
Biodiversity depends on the pollination carried out by bees. If they became endangered or extinct, it would be an environmental disaster. Even just in terms of human nutrition, it would be a catastrophe; according to Greenpeace, 75% of the food we consume depends on pollination. In addition, the planet’s ecology would be unbalanced because 70% of plants depend on pollination. In total, more than 4,000 species of plants survive thanks to bees.
According to Greenpeace data, if the activity carried out by bees had to be done by humans and their machines, it would cost 265,000 million euros. But beyond money and the production of honey, the disappearance of the pollination that bees do would translate into the loss of many animal and plant species, including those that humans need for food. A hypothetical extinction of these social insects would significantly damage the ecological balance of the planet, to such an extent that human survival would be almost impossible.
Albert Einstein stated that if bees disappeared, humans would not survive for many more years on the planet.
The decline of bees
In recent years, the bee population has been declining alarmingly. There are several factors involved: the deterioration and loss of habitats, invasive species, the impact of climate change, and especially the use of pesticides in industrialized agriculture. For example, according to the journal Nature, the European bee is unable to detect the presence of the three most common neonicotinoid pesticides, resulting in the species being exposed to their harmful effects.
Thanks to the actions of NGOs like Greenpeace, which have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures, some of these pesticides have now been banned. But other synthetic pesticides that are dangerous to pollinating insects, including butterflies as well as bees, are still being used.
The 5 environmental benefits of bees
1 – They provide ecological balance and improve ecosystems
The presence of bees in ecosystems favours biodiversity, helping preserve and stabilize the ecology of natural spaces.
2 – They generate economic income for beekeeping regions
Regions with large bee colonies produce higher amounts of fruits and seeds, contributing to the development of agricultural communities.
The products resulting from beekeeping also supplement the income of farmers and foresters.
3 – They make natural products such as honey, wax, bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis
Of the more than 20,000 species of bees that exist, only seven produce honey. Honey is one of the most appreciated natural sweeteners in the world and its consumption is increasing. In addition to giving us natural sweetness, honey has antibacterial and antiseptic properties that allow it to be preserved for years without spoiling or losing its properties. Archaeologists have found pots of honey in Egyptian tombs in perfect condition after thousands of years.
4 – They are responsible for the fertilization and reproduction of trees and plants with flowers and fruits
When bees travel from flower to flower, they carry pollen from one to another. The pollen fertilizes the flowers, which allows the seeds and fruits of these species to be produced. If there is no pollination, there will be no apples, blueberries, strawberries, cocoa or coffee, among other everyday foodstuffs. The pollination carried out by bees is essential for us to maintain a varied, healthy and balanced diet.
But bees are not only responsible for the fertilization of crops; they also fertilize wild flowers, which protects biodiversity.
5 – They are essential for 75% of food crops
Many fruits and vegetables depend on pollination for cultivation. Cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and more would not exist if bees had not done the work of pollinating the crops. In California, almond cultivation has grown in such a way that local bees are not enough to carry out pollination. That is why, every year, farmers who grow almond trees have to rent and transport bee hives from all over the United States.
For all these reasons, we must prevent the extinction of bees by acting in a responsible and sustainable way: reducing pollution, avoiding damage to ecosystems, and in general taking care of our environment. Our life depends on them.
What can I do for bees?
Each of us can contribute to the protection of bees and other pollinating insects by consuming fruits and vegetables produced by local organic farming.
You can also buy unrefined honey, wax, pollen, propolis, or royal jelly from local producers.
If you have a garden, terrace, orchard, or balcony, you can grow local plants that bloom at different times of the year. By doing this, you will contribute to the diet of your local bees. But avoid the use of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides that harm them. Find out about how to fight pests on your plants naturally.
Many people are afraid of bees – some with good reason, because they are allergic to their stings. But bees do not deliberately attack humans. If they sting, it is in self-defence. Understanding them better will help you to live with them without fear.
If you also want to contribute to caring for the planet, we recommend that you try the Lacer Natur® range that respects the environment: toothpaste with natural ingredients, mouthwash with 100% recycled and recyclable packaging and toothbrush with recyclable and 100% natural bamboo handle.