Bees are incredibly valuable to both humans and the environment in ways you could not imagine. You probably know a few things about honey bees. They go to the flowers and collect honey; they live in colonies and are responsible for protecting the queen bee. People are putting a great deal of great effort into saving these insects, but why are bees so important?
Honey bees contribute to the health of their local ecosystems through their activities and their work. They also provide a variety of products such as honey, propolis, beeswax, royal jelly, bee bread, pollen and bee venom, which humans use in various processing and manufacturing applications.
Bees play a huge role in human agriculture and food production, hence ensuring food security. Though their stings can be unpleasant and potentially harmful for people with allergies, they pose a minor threat to our everyday lives. They only sting when people or other animals threaten them, and this especially happens when they are defending their knives and when someone is trying to squish them.
How do honey bees benefit humans?
There are several benefits that humans reap from honeybees. It doesn’t just start and end with honey. The following are some of the ways in which honey bees benefit humans:
Pollen collects on the furry legs and bodies of bees as they collect nectar from flowers for their hives. Aside from the numerous advantages of having bees in your home garden, bees pollinate an astonishing 85 percent of food crops that humans consume.
Bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops in the United States and 200 million pounds worth in the United Kingdom. As a result, they have a major impact on the agricultural economy and agriculture being a major economic activity for many countries, and it consequently affects the global economy. According to one estimate, losing bees would result in a $5.7 billion annual economic loss worldwide.
Bees are the only insects that produce food that humans eat, aside from pollinating almost everything we eat. Honey is one of the many advantages of bees, as it is not only an outstanding natural sweetener, but it also enriches our diets with a variety of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Honey, in particular, is high in vitamins B1, B3, and B6, as well as minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, manganese, copper, magnesium and phosphorus.
In addition, honey has a long shelf life and humans use it for a range of health benefits, like relieving seasonal allergies, treating wounds, boosting memory, potentially preventing low white blood cell count that results from chemotherapy, supplying body fuel, destroying antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and addressing scalp problems and dandruff.
Honey has potent antibacterial effects, in addition to being a safe alternative to sugar in baked goods and cooking. It destroys bacteria and prevents infection in skin wounds, and due to trace quantities of pollen, it has proven to alleviate allergies.
People also speak of and use it as a facial revitalizer to clear their skin and reduce the possibility of having facial wrinkles. This is scientifically unproven, but it seems to work well for a number of people.
Bees store their honey in wax honeycomb fortresses. People in the olden days used beeswax to make candles, produce cosmetics, and even fill dental cavities. People commonly incorporate it in beauty products, concrete polish, and furniture waxes these days. Most cosmetics will have honey as an ingredient.
Another application is using it to keep metals such as bronze and copper in good condition, as well as to protect waterproof leather and cheese round waxy coating.
They can help fight cancer
A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows that bee products such as honey, bee venom, and royal jelly are effective in reducing the growth and spread of cancerous tumors. Honey can therefore help you fight and minimize the effect of cancer in your body.
Bees can predict storms
These incredible insects navigate by using the earth’s magnetic field. In addition, these electromagnetic waves also alert bees of impending thunderstorms. So you might want to grab your umbrella the next time you see no bees buzzing about or hovering around the flowerbeds where you usually see them.
What products do honey bees provide for humans?
Honey bees produce several products which are helpful to human beings. These include:
Honey is a complex substance that honey bees create by collecting nectar and sweet deposits from plants and trees, modifying them, and storing them in the honeycomb as a food source for the colony. Indigenous communities also collected honey from various species of bees for consumption.
Humans sometimes collect honey from the nests of native bees that don’t sting, although this is usually in much smaller amounts. Only the European honey bee and the Asian honey bee have been heavily harvested for commercial purposes.
Nectar is a high-sucrose liquid formed by plant glands called nectaries. Nectar contains a lot of moisture, which is mainly evaporated by honey bees when they make honey. For honey bees, nectar is an essential source of energy and plays a critical role in evolutionary differentiation and foraging economics between subspecies.
The temperature of nectar influences honey bee foraging decisions, according to an experiment performed that the African honey bee, A. m. Scutellata performed. In the diet of bees, nectar is a rich source of carbohydrates.
Worker bees secrete beeswax from a series of glands on their abdomens when they are young. Beekeepers use beeswax to make honeycomb walls and caps. Some beekeepers, on the other hand, use plastic as a base or as a honeycomb replacement. Although you can coat these manmade plastic honeycomb replacements (otherwise known as foundations) with wax to get the bees started 🙂
Many people harvest beeswax for a variety of uses, including candles, creams, conditioners, polish, and lip balms, to name a few.
When bees land on flowers, they collect pollen in a pollen basket and carry it back to the hive. However, only the worker honey bee is capable of performing this role. Neither the queen bee nor the male bee can collect pollen. Bees use pollen as an essential source of protein in the beehive to raise the bee broods.
People commonly consume pollen as a health supplement in small doses or even sprinkle it on breakfast cereal. People have also used it as a source of hand pollination with moderate success. Pollen that bees have collected and processed for pollination loses its potency quickly.
This is most likely due to the effects of enzymes or other chemicals that bees secrete. Therefore, when you collect it, you should use it within a few hours. Hand-collected pollen, however, can remain usable for weeks if you store it promptly under suitable conditions.
Bee bread is not bread comprising bees but rather ‘bread’ the bees make. Bee bread is the pollen that the bees have gathered and combined with bee digestive fluids and nectar and packed into their brood cells. The bees then use honey to seal these cells and store them in the hive for later consumption.
Bees do this because they do not eat pollen in its natural state. Pollen has a high protein content. It has all of the essential amino acids, as well as a variety of fatty acids and vitamins B, C, D, E, and K, and provitamin A. Honeybees coat themselves in pollen while extracting nectar from plants and then adding antibiotic substances and hormones in order to deposit it in honeycomb cells.
Extracted honeycomb pollen or bee bread comes as a result of removing these pollen balls from within a honeycomb cell. Trapped fresh pollen, on the other hand, comes from putting a pollen trap at the hive’s entrance. When bees are attempting to squeeze through the pollen trap, pollen falls off their legs.
Propolis is a Greek word that literally means “to protect the city.” It is also called bee glue. People use resins, balsams, and tree saps to make propolis. Certain honey bee species that nest in tree cavities use propolis to plug hive cracks.
When a swarm of honey bees settles in a tree hollow or possum box, the bees also use propolis to create a small entrance to the hive. Dwarf honey bees use propolis to build a sticky moat around the branch that contains their nest, which protects them from ants. Propolis is an ingredient in some cosmetics, and humans consume it as a health supplement in a variety of ways due to its high medicinal qualities.
Propolis is available in capsule form and is also an ingredient in some toothpaste formulations. I myself returned from a holiday with a terrible sore throat one year. I tried other remedies but only propolis taken orally sorted it out. I have been taking propolis for sore throats ever since!
Worker honey bees secrete royal jelly from their hypopharynx glands which the adult queens and larvae of the queen bee, worker bee, and drone bees feed on. This is because the worker honey bees are fertile. All bee larvae, whether it is their destiny to become drones (males), workers (sterile females), or queens, feed on royal jelly.
However, when worker bees decide to have a new queen because the old one is getting weak or has died, they choose a group of small female larvae and feed them extensive quantities of royal jelly in specially built cells. These cells are much larger than worker or drone cells and are referred to as queen cells. This form of feeding causes the development of queen morphology in the female larvae, including fully developed ovaries required for egg-laying.
The drone and worker larvae cease feeding on royal jelly after three days, but the queen larvae continue feeding on this unique substance during their growth. Humans harvest it by inducing queen bee production in colonies using movable frame hives. When the queen larvae are around four days old, they extract royal jelly from each individual queen cell.
Royal jelly is only available in large amounts in the queen cells, and that’s why people collect it from there. When worker larvae feed on royal jelly, they feed directly and eat it as they receive it. The cells of queen larvae, on the other hand, accumulate royal jelly much faster than the larvae can consume it.
During a season of 5–6 months, a well-managed hive will produce approximately 500 grams of royal jelly. Due to the perishability of the commodity, producers must have immediate access to adequate cold storage like a home refrigerator or a freezer where they can process royal jelly before selling it or transporting it to a collection center.
A worker bee injects bee venom when it stings. It uses this as a protective mechanism to defend itself and its colony. Bee venom, also known as apitoxin, is a colorless, transparent liquid that contains proteins that can cause localized inflammation or, in the worst-case scenario, a severe allergic reaction.
People extract or milk bee venom from bees using specially designed devices that do not hurt the bee. For a long time, people have used bee venom as alternative medicine in apitherapy as it has health benefits and can aid in treating some illnesses. It is also to desensitize people who are allergic to bee venom.
Medical supervision is necessary for this. However, many people claim that scientific evidence does not support the benefits of bee venom.
Seeing a natural therapist that includes a prescription of inhaling the air produced in the beehive is becoming more common. To accomplish this, one attaches a hose and a mask to the beehive’s cover.
The patient will sit for a while, inhaling the hive’s air. This method seems to be effective for people suffering from asthma. In addition, as any beekeeper would tell you, the smell of a beehive can be very pleasant and unlike anything else in nature, mainly when the bees are producing honey.
What ecosystem services do bees provide?
Greening the earth necessitates more than land, water, and sunlight. Cross-pollination is necessary in at least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants for them to spread and prosper. Bees take the lion’s share in pollinating the world’s crops.
Sadly, bee populations in the United States and around the world are declining. Some flowers bloom earlier or later than expected as a result of climate change, leaving bees with fewer food supplies at the start of the season. Abandoned fields, development and a lack of bee-friendly flowers all contribute to habitat loss for bees.
Treating plants and seeds with neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as harmful parasites such as mites, have caused some colonies to collapse. The good news is that there are some things gardeners can do to help bee populations recover. Planting a bee-friendly garden will not only result in healthier and more colorful plants, but it will also ensure that bees will continue to play an essential role in our environment.
Researchers show that tropical climates and densely forested areas are the honey bee’s original habitats. Honey bees can live in both natural and domesticated habitats, but they prefer gardens, orchards, woodlands, meadows, and other places with a lot of flowering plants. Honey bees construct nests within tree cavities and under the edges of surfaces in their natural habitat.
The following are the ecosystem services that bees provide:
Which summer crop is your favorite? If you enjoy apples, cranberries, melons, broccoli, or asparagus, you should give our fuzzy insect friends a little more credit and gratitude. For these plants to germinate, the transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower (the anther) to the female part of the flower (the stigma) is necessary.
Bees leave behind pollen grains as they travel from flower to flower in search of nectar, allowing plants to develop and produce food. Every year, bees pollinate billions of plants, including millions of agricultural crops, earning them the reputation of hard workers. Pollinators such as bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we consume.
Many people would suffer if they didn’t exist.
Wild Plant Growth
Pollinators aren’t only necessary for the growth of farm-grown fruits and vegetables. Many wild plant species depend on insect pollinators as well. Bees produce a variety of seeds, berries, nuts, and fruit, all of which are essential food sources for wild animals. The pollination efforts of the bees often encourage flowering plants to thrive, making the world more vibrant and beautiful for anyone who lives there.
During the cold winter months, bees produce honey to feed their colonies. Humans have been harvesting honey for thousands of years, but we aren’t the only ones who enjoy it. Birds, opossums, raccoons, and insects also raid beehives in search of sweet honey and bee larvae.
Bees also take part in the food chain. Over 24 bird species eat bees. These include the starling, blackbird, and ruby-throated hummingbird. Some spiders and insects like praying mantises and dragonflies eat bees as well.
Bees are popular for their intricate hives. They also help millions of other insects and animals build homes. Pollinators are essential for savannah woodlands, tropical forests, and temperate deciduous forests to thrive.
Many tree species, such as willows and poplars, will not be able to thrive without pollinators such as bees. Bees are beneficial to trees, and trees are beneficial to bees. Hundreds of tiny animals, ranging from birds and squirrels to thousands of tiny insects, have a home in your garden.
These animals that depend on the plants in your garden for survival would perish if bees vanished. Trees and bees have a natural affinity for each other. Honeybees and stingless bees evolved in woodland biotopes in the beginning. When given a choice, wild honeybees prefer to build their nests in trees rather than in open spaces.
Honeybees tend to build their comb or nests high in trees rather than close to the ground, but you can find them anywhere in a tree. A high nesting place is advantageous in savannah areas with bushfires during the dry season. Since many beekeepers practice beekeeping in forest like areas, they should be concerned about the preservation of the forest, especially the tall trees that bees prefer.
When there are enough bees in a forest, they provide better pollination, which contributes to increased tree regeneration and forest protection.
Bees play an essential role in the ecosystem as pollinators. They encourage the growth of trees, flowers, and other plants that provide food and shelter to both large and small animals. Bees play an essential role in dynamic, interconnected ecosystems that enable a wide range of species to coexist.
I can’t overstate the importance of bees in our food supply. We would have rather bare gardens and less diverse plates of food without them. However, we must not overlook the other factors why bees are beneficial to the climate.
There would be no flowering plants without bees, and there would be no bees without flowering plants. Biodiversity would suffer if bees were not present. The number of different plant and animal species that are in a given unit area is referred to as biodiversity.
Tropical forest areas have the most biodiversity, while the Arctic has the least. High biodiversity relates directly to an ecosystem’s age and a healthy climate. A secure environment allows for the creation of specialization and the use of narrow ecological niches.
In tropical forests, the species’ attempts to escape attack by disease and pests lead to high biodiversity. In a tropical forest biome with a constant supply of water and a hot and steady climate, both can be even more serious. The high diversity of pollination relationships, combined with their high specialization, can pose a threat to the forest.
Food must be available all year for the specialist pollinator. Many of the smaller trees bloom all year or nearly all year, but the larger trees bloom only once or twice a year. Some trees bloom every year, while others bloom every third or fifth year, and all trees of the same species bloom at the same time, if not at the same hour. If the specialist bees lose their stable resources as a result of tree cutting, they will not be available to pollinate the larger trees.
Plant reproduction is as easy as vegetative reproduction – a new tree could grow from a root shoot. The new tree will then have the same genetic makeup as the mother tree. If the climate were constant, vegetative reproduction alone would not be a concern, but most ecosystems change over time.
Climate change, emerging pathogens, and pests are all possibilities. Plants that are genetically different must be able to respond to environmental changes. As a result, there will still be some kind of plants that adapt better than others because they have unique genetic constitutions.
The only way to ensure constant mixing of the genes in plants is cross-pollination, in which there’s a transfer of pollen from one plant to another by bees. Consequently, the offspring become genetically distinct. This ensures that at least some of the offspring have a better chance of surviving in life’s rivalry and bees play a most significant role in this.
How do bees help farmers?
Agriculture relies heavily on bees. They pollinate crops, boost yields, and build a thriving honey industry. Bees are so critical that farmers pay millions of dollars to rent hives to pollinate their crops.
Bees pollinate more than a third of the food we consume, either directly or indirectly. Many fruits, vegetables and nuts depend on bees and other insects to pollinate them in order to produce fruit, and without pollinators, these crops could become extinct.
All of this pollination contributes to a lot of production and thus income: honey bees generate an average of $24 billion in annual agricultural revenue in the United States, and there was a generation of 161.8 million pounds of raw honey in 2016. However, honey bees, as well as the market, habitats, and nutritional diversity they provide, are in jeopardy, and there’s more need to protect them and their habitats.
Pollination by honey bees benefits more than just farmers and their crops. This work is also crucial for the bees’ local habitats. Honey bees help plants reproduce, develop, and survive by pollinating them. These plants play an essential role in their surroundings. Humans use fruits, seeds and nuts as food.
Trees and bushes provide shelter for animals and insects. Pollination encourages biodiversity, which results in a robust and dynamic ecosystem that is home to a wide variety of species. For humans and the wildlife around us, the natural world will be a lot less colorful without bees.
Though they are a small and often unnoticeable part of nature, honey bees are an essential part of the planet. Like all creatures, bees play a role in maintaining a balanced and flourishing ecosystem. The plants that bees pollinate create food and shelter for many other creatures, such as birds, squirrels, and insects. If honey bees disappeared, these plants and animals would soon follow.