Does Our Future Depend on the Survival of Bees?
(By Becky Orme)
Bees play a crucial role in multiple ecosystems all over the globe. They are perfectly designed pollinators and significant contributors to the fertilisation of the World’s plant populations.
Pollination is imperative for maintaining reproductive cycles and genetic diversity within flowering plant communities. Bees collect pollen grains whilst they are seeking out sugary nectar for their colony – some even have specially modified pollen baskets on their hind-limbs. On their hunt for food, pollen grains are transported by bees to a variation of plants. Bees can also help plants to self-pollinate.
Fertilised eggs within female flowers develop into seeds, and eventually become dispersed by animals, wind or water; further sustaining the next generation of seedlings. Some seeds can be encapsulated in attractive, sweet fruits, such as berries or apples. In evolutionary terms, plants which disperse seeds in fruits are very successful. Fruits are consumed and digested by animal couriers, and eventually the seeds are excreted in alternate locations away from the parent plant – giving the new seedling the best chance of survival and decreasing competition for resources. By aiding in pollination, bees ensure the production of seeds in flowering plant communities; therefore, completing the reproductive cycle and sustaining the next generation of seedlings.
Without this there will be nothing for us, bees are key to sustaining life! Don’t underestimate how important the little guy is to the big picture.
Bee populations are declining at an alarming rate, with causations ranging from climate change, parasites, pathogens, habitat loss and the use of harmful pesticides. The conservation of these prestigious insects ultimately falls on us, yet agricultural sites appear to be more of a priority. An important factor to consider is plants that require fertilisation in order to grow vegetables or fruit, providing humans, wildlife and livestock with food.
So next time you see a bee sitting on the floor or looking like he’s at deaths door, pop a drop of sugar water down at his feet and help him back on his way.
Ask yourself: without colonies of bees inhabiting the earth, how would we be able to survive?