Beneficial Insects: Bees

BENEFICIAL INSECTS: BEES

Insects can be pests. They can invade your home, cause pain to you and those you care about, and make your life more difficult. But it’s imperative to remember that not all insects are pests. Some insects are incredibly important to the survival of humanity as a whole.

Bees are arguably one of the most beneficial insects on Earth. Without them, humans would have almost certainly ceased to exist long ago. While many fear being stung and are displeased with their presence, bees are a major reason that civilization is able to survive and function the way that it does.

Dr. Killigan's Picture of Bee on FlowerPOLLINATION

The process of pollination seems simple. Bees are insects that carry pollen from plant to plant and from flower to flower. The pollen is collected on the furry legs of the bee and is passed along when it travels between plants. The bee also uses pollen as food, so they are able to pollinate for extended periods of time.

In reality, this deceivingly simple process is responsible for an estimated 85% of all food crops for humans and numerous crops that are used to feed livestock. To put that into perspective, pollination is responsible for about one out of every three bites of food that we consume.

Because of this, research indicates that if bees ceased to exist, environmental collapse would be imminent. Without bees, many plants would be unable to reproduce and eventually die out entirely. Different species of bees are responsible for pollinating different species of plants and if one of the species of bees were to die off, many plants would no longer be able to survive.

HONEY

Honeybees are unique in that they are the only insect that produces a food that is consumed by humans. In 2013, the honey crop in the United States had an estimated value of over $300 million.

Honey is a natural product that has a variety of benefits, including anti-bacterial properties. Honey is known to help alleviate symptoms of some ailments and can assist in fighting bacteria and infection. Research has also shown that honey can be especially beneficial to young children as it can help combat the development of allergies due to the presence of pollen in honey.

Civilizations around the world have been using honey in foods for thousands of years. Humans also use honey in many beauty and health products due to its healing properties.

AGRICULTURAL INDICATORS

Bees also perform a major service for humanity by acting as important indicators of environmental health. In recent years, the bee population has experienced rapid decline, which serves as a clear sign that something is wrong. The dwindling bee population spurred research into possible causes, which gives humanity the chance to right what is damaging the environment.

Bees have remained one of the most beneficial insects to humanity for thousands of years. A world without them would be a world that humans could not survive in. Without a doubt, it is of vital importance that the bee population be preserved. The dwindling populations of bee species serve as a sign that action needs to be taken.

TAKE ACTION

Dr. Killigan's Picture of BeeWhat can you do? Educate yourself on these issues. Talk to others about the importance of bees.

When planting plants in your garden, plant flowers and flowering herbs that honeybees are fond of, and refrain from using harsh chemicals on them. The chemicals can negatively affect the honey, and they can also be harmful to the bees themselves.  Take special care when using pesticides that the chemicals will not threaten bees.

Be aware that bees are not out to sting you; they are vegetarian and are interested in pollen.  To avoid being stung, keep out of their way and stay still and calm if a bee is near you. If a bee lands on you, it is more than likely smelling you and will fly off in a matter of seconds.  Bees only sting if they feel threatened, so move slowly and do not block the entrance to a hive.

These insects do not want to hurt you, so refrain from killing them unnecessarily. Bees are an invaluable insect and their numbers are already startlingly small, so be mindful to make choices that will positively affect and protect them.

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