The Role of Bees in the Ecosystem
Bees are known for their painful stings and their delicious honey. But more importantly, the role of bees in the ecosystem is essential to our survival.
Due to the substantial role, they play in the survival of the natural ecosystem some scientists believe we may starve to death if bees are eliminated from the planet earth. Surprising much? Let’s see some of the key roles these tiny insects play in the ecosystem.
The most well-known role of bees in the ecosystem is pollination. Bees feed upon flower nectar which they can’t survive without as they need it to make honey. This very fact alone makes them crucial for the ecosystem. Though they suck away nectar from the flowers, in return, they perform the paramount duty of pollinating flowers.
90% of all plants depend on cross-pollination to blossom, while 30% of crops rely on cross-pollination to thrive.
Pollination is a process of transferring pollen from male parts (anther) of a flower to the stigma (female part) of the flower of the same species. This helps in fertilization of the plant, and production of the seeds and food which eventually get consumed by several other living organisms including humans.
Bees derive energy from the nectar they collect while they fulfill their protein requirements by taking in pollen. Foraging bees travel from one flower to another to collect nectar, and in this voyage, they transfer the pollen to the stigma which got attached to their body when they came across anthers.
Bees are the busy workers who pollinate billions of plants and crops every year. They are the single primary source of pollination, and as per rough estimates, bees carry out 50 – 80% of global pollination. Therefore, without bees, there won’t be effective pollination, hence scarce food productions.
So, we can safely assert that a large part of our daily food relies upon bees for its production.
Bees help in pollinating several crops which include:
- fruits such as apples, oranges, peaches, melons, strawberries, and pears
- vegetables such as squash, cucumber, eggplant, broccoli, celery, and tomatoes
- production of fiber, cotton, nuts, almonds, and seeds
It is no secret about the importance of honey which honey bees produce. Honeybees collect nectar from different flowers, and this fulfills the nourishment needs of the bees, and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fats to them.
Bees save the nectar in their sack and return to their hives. It’s in their hives where they make honey out of this nectar by mixing it with special enzymes.
Bees produce honey to consume it during winter, and to feed their fellow colony members. Honey is the winter food of bees which they save in cells, and usually, the produced honey is more than they need. Humans, utilized in numerous applications, harvest this extra honey.
Besides humans, several other living creatures love to feast upon this sweet treat; birds, raccoons, insects, and opossums usually raid beehives to consume honey and take in bee larvae.
Besides producing food for all of us, bees themselves are the food source for various living creatures. Several birds, insects, spiders, dragonflies, and praying mantises devour bees.
The glandular secretion of honeybees is known as beeswax which we collect and use for various processes and applications. From cosmetics to pharmaceuticals to polishes and candles beeswax is used for many purposes.
The beeswax has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which make it extremely important for medicinal purposes.
Several artists and professionals use this wax for creative purposes. It can even neutralize toxic substance present in our stomach.
Wild Plant Growth
Another major role of bees in the ecosystem is pollination. It’s not limited to just farm-grown vegetables and fruits. Several wild plant species rely on bees and other insects for pollination. For our needs bees behind the adequate production of:
In addition to building their creative hives, bees play a substantial role in providing homes to millions of other animals, birds, and insects. Due to their pollination, they aid in the growth, and development of tropical forests, temperate deciduous forests, and savannah woodlands.
The forests and woodlands these bees help in creating, in turn, provide homes and shelters to other small and large creatures like birds, insects, animals, etc. Contrary to their size bees play a significant role in the complex interconnected ecosystems.
If we remove bees from the natural habitat all other living creatures which rely upon them and plants for their survival will also vanish.
If we were to quantify the contributions of bees to the food industry alone, then they contribute around $40 billion annually to the crop industry. This rough estimate is enough to shed light on the importance of bees.
We must value the crucial role of bees in the ecosystem bees because of their job to retain our food supply. But the worrisome fact is that bees are suffering from habitat loss lately.
This is due to the excessive industrialization, developments, abandoned farms, and scarcity of bee-friendly flowers. Measures should be taken to nurture bees’ populations, and to protect the natural ecosystem from collapsing.***
More Related Articles About Bees: