How can we Save the Bees for a Healthy Planet

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How can we Save the Bees for a Healthy Planet

It takes more than soil, water, and sunshine to make the world green. At least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive, and thus this is why bees are our most important pollinators. They produce honey and wax, which are used in countless human products, and pollinate hundreds of crop species. Unfortunately, the bee population around the world is on the decline. so we need to save the bees before it's too late. we all should take tangible actions to protect this best pollinator of the world.

Must-Know Facts About Bees

  

Source: Facts

  • There are more than 20,000 distinct species of bees that existed worldwide. Bees have the capability to exist in all climatic conditions around the world likewise in forests, deserts, even in the Arctic Circle.
  • Currently, the bee population is on a decline worldwide. There are many factors affecting this declination like diseases, viruses, pests, monocultures, and molds, etc. having adverse effects differently. But unfortunately, they often catalyze each other's negative effects. 
  • Wild native bees are also disappearing. In Northern Wisconsin, the species that was the most abundant in the mid-1990s was the yellow-banded bumblebee.
  • Many farmers rely on the diversity of bees to pollinate their produce. For instance, pollination done by the Red mason bee benefited the commercial apple growers. This species has been proven to be 120 times more efficient at pollinating the apple blossoms than honeybees.
  • There are pieces of evidence that natural pollination by the right type of bee improves the crop's quality right from its nutritional value to its shelf life. For instance: Both bumblebees and solitary bees feed on different parts of strawberry flowers. Interestingly, in a combination, they produce bigger, juicier, and more evenly-shaped strawberries.
  • The connection between honey bees and human society is limitless. Beyond the pollination services and honey that contribute immensely to our economy, honey bees also produce beeswax used in candles, pollen (as a dietary supplement), royal jelly, propolis (bee glue used in cosmetics), and bee venom.

Why are bees so important to the Planet?

1. Aids in the Growth of Wild Plants

Many species of wild plants depend on these insect pollinators as well. Bees are responsible for producing many seeds, nuts, berries, and fruit, which serve as a vital food source for wild animals. Bees immensely contribute to complex, interconnected ecosystems that allow a diverse number of different species to coexist.

2. Food Source

All bees produce honey to nourish and feed their colonies during the cold wintery months. Thus bees provide a food source, not only for their colonies but also to humans.

We have harvested honey for thousands of years, but humans are not the only ones who consider it a sweet snack. Critters like birds, raccoons, opossums, and insects will raid beehives for a taste of nutritious honey!

3. A Part of the Food Chain

Bees play a vital role in the food chain too. Most of the food we get, because of the pollination they do. Other than bees lot of insects like dragonflies, praying mantises also contribute in pollination process

4.  The Pollinators

I think flowers are the most beautiful thing on the planet. Flowers bloom because of the pollination process that is the contribution of bees to beautify the planet landscapes. And it is the foremost and easiest thing for them to do. By keeping flowers pollinated, bees perpetuate floral growth and provide attractive habitats for other animals such as insects and birds.

5.  Beautification of the Planet

Pollinating flowers and contributing to beautifying the planet’s landscapes may be the bees’ perhaps simplest and least economically important actions, but it’s certainly its most eye-pleasing one. Bees also maintain the flower growth to provide attractive habitats for other animals such as insects and birds.

6. Antibacterial Components

Though honey is not a cure-all, it has certain benefits to fight off some illnesses or alleviate some ailments’ symptoms. Honey and beeswax contain a byproduct called propolis that is an antibacterial agent. This product can help fight bacteria and infection, which is especially useful for treating wounds. Honey has also been found to soothe sore throats brought on by the common cold.

Bees are, therefore, amongst the most important insects to humans on Earth. Also, we should thank these tiny and beautiful insects for providing us fruits, vegetables, and of course honey.

Why is the bees' population declining?

There is no single cause for the decline in the population, but other threats include land-use changes for agriculture or urbanization, resulting in the loss and degradation of natural habitats. Intensive agriculture leads to homogenous landscapes and the disappearance of diverse flora, reducing food and nesting resources.

Use of Pesticides

Exposure to many pesticides and herbicides can either kill the bees directly or severely weaken a bee colony's health. 

There are several ways insecticides can kill honey bees. The first one is the direct contact with the insecticide sprays on bees while in the field. The bee immediately dies from such harsh chemicals and does not return to the hive.

The second more deadly way is when the bee comes in contact with an insecticide, makes it back to its hive, and then transports it to the entire colony, either in the form of contaminated pollen or nectar or on its body.

Loss of Habitat

Landform changes, loss of biodiversity,  habitat fragmentation, etc., create a lack of foraging opportunities for bees. With industrialization on the rise, areas of natural habitat are being converted to roads and developments.

This pushes the bees off their habitats, causing changes in behavior for foraging and mating.

Climate Change

Multiple factors related to climate change affect bees, including variations in vegetation, rising temperatures, destroying habitat, or creating inhospitable conditions for many species of bees. For example, spring flowers have been blooming earlier in the season, drastically reducing the bee's chance to feed on the pollen

Honeybees and Colony Collapse Disorder

Apiculture (the technical term for beekeeping) is a well-developed industry in India, so our country provides most research on mobile radiation's impact on honey bees. Most importantly, the extinction of bee populations worldwide is known as the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). It is mainly due to several reasons such as climate change and pesticides, and the radiation emitted by mobile phones, WiFi routers, and cell phone masts. Radiofrequency radiation occurs everywhere, and thorough research, it is verified that mobile phones affect the honeybees' life system.

Top 10 Ways to Protect & Save the Bees

Beekeeping will have a ruffle effect on the Indian economy, as bees increase the yield and quality of crops through pollination. This will lead to an increase in income for 2 lakh beekeepers and provide quality honey to consumers.

The National Bee Board is also working towards educating farmers about the harmful effects of pesticides on bees. The Mango Tree Society trains and equips smallholding farmers to beekeeping in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh. As a result, it will increase the farmers' income by buying back honey from them. 

1. Say No to Pesticides and Insecticides

Pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides contain chemicals that are very harmful to bees and other beneficial pollinators.  Avoiding the harsh chemical sprays on our plants and yards is one way of saving them. 

Also, doing some research and trying some natural, bee-friendly alternatives can also contribute to saving the bees. Moreover, few insecticide labels that state "organic" or 100% natural could still be hazardous.

2. Plant a bee-friendly garden

There are easy steps that one can take:

Finding a nearby nursery that sells native or local plants, as well as milkweed which are actually good for pollinators. 

Native plants are the ideal choice since they require less maintenance and tend to provide nectar, pollen for native butterflies, insects, and birds.

3. Keep a bowl of water

Even in small balconies, one can install a mini water basin for the bees to drink during the warm day of summer. Putting some leaves or floating corks could prevent the drowning of bees.  Also, if there is plenty of space or there is a garden, establishing a shallow container of water, the bees can have a place to rehydrate, and don't forget to add some twigs and pebbles to give them a place to land!

4. Support the Local Beekeepers and Organizations

By purchasing local honey, we can contribute to supporting the local beekeepers in our area. Unlike pasteurized honey, the raw honey comes straight from the hive and is unpasteurized, unheated, and undiluted, which means it retains all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and delicious flavor. Raw honey is very beneficial for health. Try to buy locally to support the community.   

5. Buy Local and Ethical honey

When it comes to commercial production of honey, honey producers use exploited practices to increase production, such as replacing the original honey with artificial sweeteners and using unethical breeding methods on queen bees, etc. 

Therefore, question yourself if the honey you're buying is ethical. 

Does the beekeeper have complete awareness regarding honey's ethical production, and is the honey produced sustainably, or making a profit is their sole interest? 

6. Spread the Awareness

When many people think of bees, they tend to think that they are dangerous creepy insects that sting and cause severe pain. 

But one can get rid of these negative definitions through information, education, and self-awareness. This will go a  long way in protecting bees and become a valuable contribution and a work for a serious cause. Let's learn more about honey bees and share our knowledge wherever we can.

7. Build a Nest for the Bees

There are honey bees and many other bee species that are equally essential for pollination. These solitary bees do not live in colonies but live in nests within small spaces such as holes in the wood or hollow stems. With deforestation and the consequent loss of habitat, these small insects struggle to find spaces to build a “home.”

So, build a nest to host them in your garden, vegetable garden, courtyard, or balcony. All we need to do to save the bees is to create a wooden frame and insert pieces of wood inside where we have drilled the holes, alternating with a few small twigs or bamboo canes.

8. Celebrate World's Bee Day

Every year, World Bee Day is celebrated internationally on the 20th of May. Let’s promote solidarity together with bees! 

For instance: The hashtag #BeeFriend helps us raise public awareness of the importance of saving bees and other pollinators. On World Bee Day, one can sign a pledge to save bees or donate to the organizations that pledge to save them.

9. Plant more trees to save the bees

Tree resin and leaves provide a type of nesting material for bees. Their natural wood cavities make an exceptional shelter space. However, with a hike in development and deforestation, it is a worrying time.

Moreover, it will provide hundreds if not thousands of blossoms for bees to feed on whenever a tree blooms. This means that trees serve as a shelter as well as provide an amazing source of food for bees and thus creating a better sustainable environment for them.

10. Sponsor a hive

Sponsoring a hive could be very helpful for local beekeepers to keep their businesses on go during times of droughts and floods. you can also fund the new installation of honeybee hives in your local neighborhood. By doing so, you not only protect honey bees but also the environment and communities to survive well. Spread awareness about your neighborhood beekeepers and help them to grow.

References:

  1. Tucker, Jessica. “Why Bees Are Important to Our Planet.” One Green Planet, One Green Planet, 14 Sept. 2020, URL
  2. Marko, Si-TEAM. “The Importance of Bees.” Celebrate World Bee Day, URL 
  3. Schwartz, Jason, et al. “Save the Bees.” Greenpeace USA, 18 June 2014, URL
  4. “5 Ways Bees Are Important to the Environment.” Canada's Leading Lawn and Garden Manufacturer, URL 
  5. “9 Ways Large & Small to Help Save Honey Bees.” Made In Nature, URL
  6. Andre. “Save the Bees, Save the World: The SL Blog.” SportingLife Blog, 13 Sept. 2017, URL 

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