Creating a Buzz
It is now August, and our Wellness Vegetable Gardens are full and ready for harvesting. In addition to the fresh herbs and veggies, we are creating a buzz here at Wills Transfer with bees.
Bees buzzing here and there, from plant to plant without ever stopping to smell the roses. They work tirelessly throughout the day gathering and pollinating.
So, I did a little research and thought I should write a post. A post creating a buzz about why bees are so important.
“Anyone who thinks they’re too small to make a difference has never met the honey bee.” Author Unknown
Bee populations are declining globally, which has drastic effects on the current balance of the world. We must protect bees, and the best way to start this journey is to look at why bees are important.
Why are Bees so Important?
The Pollination Buzz
Bees have been around for over 80 million years. Add to that, they produce the only food created by insects that humans eat, honey!
They are certainly both terrifying and well-loved insects. Their noise and the potential of getting stung are terrifying for children. Equally as terrifying for people like me who are allergic to them. Can you say, EpiPen?
On the other hand, bees are well-loved and vital to our human existence. Bees are pollinators, which means they help plants reproduce by passing genetic material between flowers.
This is vital not only for natural plants and flowers but also for crops that produce the food we eat. Crops that contribute to approximately 90% of the world’s nutrition such as fruit trees, nuts, coffee, berries, and vegetables.
Without bees creating a buzz, the amount of food produced would decrease as crops would not be able to reproduce. Food for thought!
Next, bees support the biodiversity of the planet. In fact, 80% of wildflowers depend on insect pollination to reproduce. This makes bees an integral part of ecosystems. So, when bee populations decline, like that of the bumblebee in Europe, so do the plants that depend on them.
A Sweet Honey Producer
Honey serves as a winter food source for bees, which they create in the summer months when nectar is abundant. For thousands of years, humans have utilized the high calorie, sweetness of honey for its medicinal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s also great on toast!
Potential Allergy Reducer
There has been research into how consuming honey from local hives can help those with seasonal allergies.
The idea is that bees collect nectar from local plants and trees to create honey. When consumed by people, it can reduce the inflammatory effects of tree and plant pollen in the summer months.
Mind Your Beeswax
There are other substances, besides honey, produced by bees that humans utilize. In fact, beeswax has been used by humans for over 9,000 years for its waterproofing properties. Today, beeswax is used in eco-friendly products like natural food wraps as an alternative to plastic wrap. Candles, lip balm, furniture polish, and even dental molds can all be made from beeswax too.
Environmental Health Indicators
Bees and their role in pollination lead them to be an important health indicator of many ecosystems. The health of bees helps us to determine the health of the environment. Subsequently helping to protect other creatures from population decline.
Because of this, humans look to bees for things like environmental pollution levels and the effects of climate change.
Key Part of Human Culture
Bees have inspired many engineering, cultural, and artistic ventures with their complex social structures and innovative building methods. Furthermore, the hexagon shapes in the honeybee’s hive are one of the most efficient structures for maximum honey storage.
What is more, we use bee idioms in language and have touted these creatures as symbols of community and fertility.
‘Busy as a Bee’ and ‘Queen Bee’ are some well-used bee idioms. And who can forget, Muhammad Ali’s famous quote ‘Float like a Butterfly Sting like a Bee’ idiom!!
Why is the Buzz going Silent?
Bee populations are declining at a rapid and unsustainable rate. But why is this happening?
Urbanization. The growth of city landscapes turns natural land into concrete, asphalt, and lawns. This leads to less biodiversity, fewer plants, and therefore a decrease in bee populations. Secondly, farmers are converting wild habitats into large areas of single-species crops, like grains. Without rich biodiversity, the bee population does not have enough variety of plant life, so they die out.
Pesticides and Disease. Pesticides are sprayed on crops and plants to prevent unwanted insects or creatures from feeding on them. Bees are not the target, but they end up being impacted by pesticides as they visit the plants and crops.
This leads to either the bee dying immediately or the bee becoming disorientated and unable to return to the hive. Even worse, chemicals linger on the bee’s body. Then they transport the toxic substance back to the colony where it harms the hive. I’ll be honest, it made me sad when I read this paragraph while doing my research.
Climate Change. Changes in environmental conditions are affecting bees as their food sources are diminishing. Many bees rely on specific plants for food. However, climate change is happening so rapidly that neither the bees nor plants can adapt.
Add to this, extreme weather events like heatwaves, storms, and floods are also causing the bee population to decline.
What Can We Do to Increase the Buzz?
Adopting organic and natural farming techniques, or banning the most toxic pesticides would help to restore our bee populations.
The bees would not be negatively affected by these chemicals, and biodiversity in these areas would begin to increase. Thus, so would the bees!
People living in urban environments can also help by planting bee-friendly flowers like lavender, lilac, and foxglove. Protect wild habitats to preserve ecosystems so that all species, including bees, can flourish.
So, when we started our Wellness Gardens, we knew it would benefit our staff. Fresh air, fresh veggies, and fresh scenery, what could be better. Well, it turns out we did more than just grow some squash, we contributed to biodiversity and our local bee population. Creating a buzz and a win, win for all.
If you like this post, check out The Blooming Rewards of Gardening to reap the benefits of mood-boosting wellness from your garden.
Post sources – The University of Guelph, Government of Canada, and Eco Redux