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Batesford, Fyansford, Stonehaven Landcare Group

The importance of bees.

Are you familiar with the sound of bees and other insects buzzing from flower to flower in your garden? This can be a sign that your garden is healthy.  But have you ever thought where we’d be without bees? And did you know that bees are under threat around the world? 

Bees have been around for 120 million years or so, much longer than we humans. They have been pollinating crops since we first started growing them in the Middle East ten thousand years ago. Now there are 20,000 known species of bees in the world which have so far been identified.

Most people go their whole lives without ever thinking about these little creatures, often not even noticing them, while bees busy themselves pollinating our garden flowers and vegetables, our crops and our native flora. They are like tiny, furry paintbrushes. The pollen collects on their fur as they brush against the stamens in search of sweet nectar, and hence they spread the pollen from flower to flower. They provide a wonderfully efficient vehicle for the transportation of pollen.  If we want this to continue we need to look after our insects because they are slowly disappearing. 

Bees are in trouble mostly due to human activity. There are fewer areas of natural forest, jungle or bushland because we are destroying their habitat without replacing it. Herbicides enable farmers to grow weed-free crops and the surrounding areas of wild flowers on the paddock margins are often contaminated with insecticides and other pesticides.  Add to this the spread of new parasites and diseases which attack both wild bees and honey bees, entering accidently, (or through carelessness), one country after another. 

All these factors render bees hungry, diseased and poisoned. Three quarters of the types of crops that humans grow require insects to pollinate them.  Various species are adapted to different climates and flower shapes so having lots of species provides some buffering for the future. But soon there will be nine billion mouths to feed on planet Earth. Bees ensure that we have enough food to eat, they enhance nature’s biodiversity and consequently a healthier planet.  Minimizing the harm we do to bees is also a way of minimizing the harm we do to ourselves.