The Importance of Bees

Sustainability • 6 min read

When we think of bees, the first thing that might spring to mind is the friendly bumble bee buzzing around the garden in the balmy summer months. However, this barely scratches the surface of this family of incredible flying insects.

Bees are complex, intelligent and vital for human life as we know it. There are around 16,000 bee species worldwide – and those are just the ones we know about.

Bees can be either solitary or social, and some species are pollinators. These species move pollen from one flower to another, ensuring seed production and continuing a cycle of growth.

The Importance of Bees

How bees help to put dinner on the table

A common misconception is that bees only help to pollinate those beautiful flowers that spring up in your garden – but in truth, they play a huge part in the food you eat every day. It is estimated at a third of all the food we consume in the UK every year is pollination dependent.

Although many other important species pollinate (including bats, birds and other insects), the humble bee plays the biggest part. A huge number of crop plants are pollinated by different bee species (wild and domesticated): potatoes, onions, citrus fruits, coffee, berries, nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, avocados, tomatoes and more.

Bee pollination impacts the whole of the agricultural industry, ensuring food for humans and livestock alike. Every day, across the globe, an army of wild and domesticated bee species pollinate our crops and orchards performing a critical service we often think little about. They also help with our natural fauna, feeding countless wild animals occupying various stages in the food chain, helping to promote and maintain biodiversity and sustainability.

The Importance of Bees

More than just food

Pollinators are essential for maintaining our food production – but their importance is not solely limited to food.

Honey and beeswax are two incredible by-products that have a myriad of interesting (and important) uses.

Honey is used in food, but it also acts as an ingredient in skincare, health, wellness and medicine. Beeswax and pollen play similar roles in beauty and food products – and it is no secret that we are passionate about the use of beeswax in candles.

Every year in the UK, bees contribute around £400 million to the economy.

The Importance of Bees

Bees are under threat

Devastatingly, a third of British wild bees are now in decline and this pattern of decline is common to many regions across the world. This has unfathomable consequences for the planet.

Bees are being threatened by a number of sources, and they primarily revolve around how we exploit the planet’s natural resources.

Changes in the way we use land have destroyed lots of habitats crucial to pollinator species survival. Our intensive modern farming has taken over lots of beautiful natural areas, like wildflower meadows, ponds and woodland, all of which help the bee population to thrive. Natural, green, flower-filled areas provide bees with the food they need for a healthy diet – and with the loss of these areas, the bee population is suffering.

Farming is not the only culprit. New housing developments also encroach on these natural areas. Urban development often takes over these crucial habitats, irreversibly affecting the local biodiversity.

Climate change is also a huge factor, shifting the natural seasons slightly every year. Fluctuating temperatures means that blossoming and flowering can happen at unusual times, creating problems for bees as they rely on these for food. It also means that bees’ nesting habits are affected, and warmer winters may cause them to emerge far too early. Spotting a bee buzzing around out of season is becoming an all-too-common occurrence.

Pesticides are also causing a decline in the bee population. Although pesticides are not intended to cause harm to animals or insects who are not pests, they can still cause issues with bees’ breeding, navigation abilities and general health.

The Importance of Bees

A world without bees

If the global bee population continues to decline at the current rapid rate, there would be significant consequences.

A huge number of different crops would experience a decline in production – and some, like the almond, are not able to pollinate at all without the help of bees.

To counteract this decline, we would inevitably try more intensive farming methods. These practices would become unsustainable, incredibly damaging to the environment and increase carbon emissions. We would have to farm significantly more land, taking over other natural habitats, and use more destructive machinery.

Ultimately, our diets, health, and the planet’s biodiversity would be irreversibly damaged.

The Importance of Bees

What can we do to help?

Counteracting this decline in bee species needs action right from the top. We need to reassess how we farm, build and consume. Weaving greener practices, design and architecture into our everyday lives would start to allow natural habitats to flourish and promote pollinators’ health.

On a personal level, there are plenty of things you can do to encourage your local bee population. Creating a bee-friendly garden, spots for solitary bees to nest and breed, and flowers to nourish your local bees is a great place to start. Also supporting local beekeepers and wildlife charities is a fulfilling, worthwhile activity.

Here at CRANBOURN®, we are incredibly passionate about this topic, and are actively engaged in plans to support bee and pollinator conservation efforts. We are in awe at the power of bees, and want to do everything we can to tackle the decline in bee populations and the threat of extinction of a number of bee species.

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