Long Life to Their Majesties, The Bees!


Human Wrongs Watch

By Baher Kamal*

Amazingly organised social communities, bees ensure food chain. ‘Bee’ grateful to them… at least in their Wold Day!

Bees-story

Did you know that out of at least 20 000 species of bees only 7 of them are honeybees? Western honeybees produce 1.6 million tonnes of honey a year. ©StudioSmart/shutterstock.com | Photo from FAO.

While the (surprisingly) still called homo sapiens continues to destroy Mother Nature, bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, carry on performing their vital role as one of the most marvellous, unpaid, life guarantors.

See what the world community of scientists and specialised organisations tell about them.

Pollinators allow plants, including food crops, to reproduce. In fact, 75 percent of the world’s food crops owe their existence to pollinators. But they not only do contribute directly to food security: they are key to conserving biodiversity–a cornerstone of life.

And they also serve as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signalling the health of local ecosystems.

In the specific case of bees, the product that most people first associate with them is honey. However, bees generate much more than that: they contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity as well as the pollination of crops, these being perhaps their most valuable services.

In short, honey is just one of several different products that can be harvested—in fact there are many others such as beeswax, pollen and propolis, royal jelly and venom, and the use of bees in apitherapy, which is medicine using bee products. Good to remember that pollinated crops include those that provide fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils.

In charge of all the vital missions, there are more than 20,000 species of wild bees alone, plus many species of butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other animals that contribute to pollination.

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There are more than 20,000 species of wild bees alone that contribute to pollination. | Image from FAO.

The dangers

Quite dramatically, in spite of their vital function, scientists and world bodies continue to ring strong alarm bells about the growing threats to bees.

In fact, they are increasingly under threat from human activities–pesticides, land-use change (and abuse), and mono-cropping practices that reduce available nutrients and pose dangers to them, the whole thing motivated by the dominating voracious production-consumption-based economic model.

Pollinators are also threatened by the decline of practices based on indigenous and local knowledge. These practices include traditional farming systems.

The risk is big: close to 35 percent of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and about 17 percent of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats, face extinction globally.

EN_Banner_World_Bee_Day

The ‘B’ Day 

In a symbolic recognition of their indispensable role as life transmission chain, specialised organisations commemorate on 20 May each year the World Bee Day.

As a way to get you a bit more familiarised with these wonderful creatures, here go some key facts and figures about bees:

  • 20,000 – Number of species of wild bees, only 7 of them are honeybees There are also some species of butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other vertebrates that contribute to pollination.
  • 75% – Percentage of the world’s food crops that depend at least in part on pollination.
  • 235 billion dollars–577 billion dollars – Annual value of global crops directly affected by pollinators.
  • 300% — Increase in volume of agricultural production dependent on animal pollination in the past 50 years.
  • Almost 90% — Percentage of wild flowering plants that depend to some extent on animal pollination.
  • 1.6 million tons – Annual honey production from the western honeybee.
  • 16.5% — Percentage of vertebrate pollinators threatened with extinction globally.
  • +40% – Percentage of invertebrate pollinator species –particularly bees and butterflies– facing extinction.
  • In addition to food crops, pollinators contribute to crops that provide bio-fuels (e.g. canola and palm oils), fibers (e.g cotton), medicines, forage for livestock, and construction materials. Some species also provide materials such as beeswax for candles and musical instruments, and arts and crafts.
  • Every third bite of food you eat depends on pollinators.

Bees on a honeycombs

Photo: UNDP-Guatemala/Carolina Trutmann

 

A wonderful social community! 

The related article: To Bee or Not to Bee… Again!, compiles 13 big amazing facts the United Nations provides about how perfectly organised our bees are. Here is a short reminder.

Honeybees are social insects that live in colonies, each consisting of:

  • The queen, whose main activity is egg-laying, up to 2,000/day,
    • 20,000–80,000 workers, all of which are females and
    • 300–1,000 males (drones), whose sole responsibility is fertilisation.
    • The queen will normally live for between 1 and 4 years, while a worker bee will live for 6–8 weeks in the summer and 4–6 months in the winter.
    • Without a queen, the colony will eventually die.
    • The workers perform a multitude of tasks, including tending to the queen, feeding larvae, feeding drones, nectar ripening, producing heat, collecting water, beehive-cleaning, guard duty, and field collection of pollen and nectar. A single honeybee may collect 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
    • The “drones” would die of starvation if the workers stopped feeding them.
    • Bees have personalities! Despite the phrase “busy as a bee”, even within a colony there will be workers and shirkers!
    • Honeybees’ wings beat 11,400 times per minute, this making their distinctive buzz.
    • Bees can recognise human faces.
    • Bees are nature’s most economical builders – honeycombs are among the most efficient structures in nature; their walls meet at a precise 120-degree angle, making a perfect hexagon.
    • Bees fly outside the hive normally when temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
    • Honeybees do not hibernate, but cluster for warmth. They remain active all winter.

Bee grateful!

Now that you know them a bit better, please take due note of the fact you can do something to protect the bees and, by the way, a key ring in the life transmission chain

There would be many ways how to show gratitude to bees. Why not just click here and take a quick look at the six big ways how to do so that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization provides.

Please love bees, don’t panic if they fly close to you, they would not harm you unless you attack them.

And always remember that they are working to ensure your food, your health and, by the way, alleviate the huge suffering that homo sapiens is causing to Mother Nature!

Imagine a world without bees…

——-

Baher Kamal

*Baher Kamal

Baher Kamal is an Egyptian-born, Spanish national, secular journalist, with nearli five decades of professional experience — from reporter to special envoy to chief editor of national dailies and an international news agency.
He is former Senior Advisor to the Director general of the international news agency IPS (Inter Press Service) and he also contributed to several prestigious magazines.
Baher Kamal is publisher and editor of Human Wrongs Watch , a non-profit, non-commercial mirror of “unseen” news and views. He is also member of TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment as well as of Other News – Voices Against the Tide.

Recent articles by Baher Kamal:

The Hellish Cycle

The Most Expensive 529 Billion Dollars

Libya: Up to One Million Enslaved Migrants, Victims of ‘Europe’s Complicity’

To Be a Latin-American Migrant in Madrid

To Be an Egyptian Migrant in Rome (and by the Way Make Great Pizza)

To Be a Nigerian Migrant in Italy

Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050

Yemen: African Migrants Beaten, Starved, Sexually Violated by Criminal Groups

African Migrants Bought and Sold Openly in ‘Slave Markets’ in Libya

Mideast: Drought to Turn People into Eternal Migrants, Prey to Extremism?

More articles by Baher Kamal HERE.

2019 Human Wrongs Watch

 

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