Honey bees, they are just little insects and what has an insect ever done for you? They sting, they cause you trouble at picnics and they are annoying right? Wrong! Actually the honey bee has a very important job and your life as you know it depends on them. Most of the times if you get stung and haven’t been actively bothering a beehive, it’s likely that you were stung by a hornet or wasp. As for our bee friends…they are having a rough time. Some say that they are disappearing, scientist aren’t sure if it is that we are taking their homes and ripping up their food sources, if it is chemicals we spray all over, it could be mites or a disease known as Colony Collapse Disorder. But we need the bees.
If you doubt how important the bees are consider if you will a few statistics. Honey bees are responsible for about 30% of the food that we eat and about 90% of wild plants. Imagine if you will if we lost that. All of a sudden there would be not only less for us to eat, but less for everything on earth to eat. So here are 10 more reasons why bees matter.
1) The honey bee is in fact the only insect that produces food that humans can eat – Honey!
2) In the US bees produce about $150 million in honey every year.
3) Also in the US bees pollinate over $15 billion worth of crops each year. This includes apples, berries, alfalfa and almonds. Between these two the disappearance of bees would lead to a hit on the economy. And as has been made rather plain over the past few years most all country’s economies are closely tied to one another these days.
4) Most dairy and meat cattle raised depend on alfalfa (pollinated by bees, see above) to survive. If the bees go so go our milkshakes and steaks. And this would play out the same for most other large livestock that are kept.
5) Next up check your clothing label. If there is cotton in your clothing a pollinating insect like a bee had a hand in bringing that product to you. Sure we have other options for what to make clothes out of, but cotton is used in so very much of our current clothing that losing it or having it be significantly reduced would be a huge blow.
6) If the bees go and we lose the plants that they pollinate we will have less plants to hold soil in place and put nutrients in the soil to help it grow. This will lead to poor quality soil and make it easier for strong winds to blow soil about. As such this will mean fewer plants growing in a spot each year, resulting in wide spread deserts.
7) Scientist think that at this point if bees go extinct the human race will be on the clock to our own extinction. As shown above the world would start changing and our current way of life would be unsustainable. The estimates are that we would last 100 years as a species once all the bees are gone.
8) Bees are hard workers. It takes 768 bees flying over 55,000 miles collectively and visiting over 2 million flowers to produce a single pound of honey. In her entire life a single worker bee will produce about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. We need a lot of bees around.
9) Bees produce more than just honey! A hive will naturally produce beeswax, which can be used for candles, lotions, polishes and so on. It also produces products like propolis and royal jelly which people are starting to find can have health benefits.
10) Don’t worry about bee stings if you aren’t allergic. Studies found that it takes over 1000 stings to kill the average healthy adult.
So what can you do? There are a number of things that you could take on. There are a number of articles on line with people’s reasons for keeping bees, such as this one. But perhaps keeping bees is a bit much for you. You can still help out by having a garden, either food or simply flowers. The more plants that grow the more feeding stops there are for bees. Even if you don’t want to grow a garden you can take a look at what you are putting out in the world. Become educated as to what chemicals you are using on your property and what effects they may have on beneficial insects. Just because a bug flies or crawls near you doesn’t mean that you have to kill it instantly. A large number of those insects help you live the life you currently lead.