-BY BRADEN HARRISON
May 20th is World Bee Day. A day to celebrate and appreciate bees and other pollinators for all the work they do in nature. Without them, most of our food wouldn’t grow… apples, blueberries, watermelons, tomatoes, and hundreds of other flowering fruits or vegetables would be in decline. Plus, we get the added bonus of the sweet honey bees produce as well.
Let’s look at the honeybee. Don’t worry, real honeybees don’t talk like humans, nor will they steal your wife or girlfriend like in the Bee Movie. The honeybee is not indigenous to North America. It is a native European animal that was imported to the Americas and elsewhere. It is technically an invasive species, though one with the added benefit of producing honey.
The Bee Movie, though unrealistic it is, gives the viewers a hint of what would happen to the world without bees. The biggest change would be to our food. While certain wild pollinators would be able to pollinate some of our crops, it wouldn’t be enough to keep up with human demand. Prices for those goods would increase, making them a luxury.
You might be wondering what we can do to protect honeybees and other pollinators. Bees require flowers to gather pollen and to spread that pollen around. Without flowers or other pollen sources, bees can’t do their job, nor can they create honey for us. Loss of habitat puts pollinators in competition with each other and the honeybee is usually victorious. So, humans should be careful not to destroy green spaces. In fact, replacing your front lawn with flowers and shrubs is a great way to help the ecosystem, not just bees!
Limiting the effects of global warming is a worldwide issue that even affects bees. Bees are now waking up earlier from hibernation. Waking up early is pretty bad for bees since their food source, pollen from flowers, is not available right away. This leads to food shortages in the hive and the death of many bees. Countering climate change is important for creatures big and small!
Lastly, humans should decrease or eliminate the use of pesticides on farms and gardens. A lot of the pesticides kill bees as well as other insects. If we don’t use pesticides, the bee population would be able to flourish. But removing the pesticides will leave the crops unprotected against other insects. It is a small price to pay for the health of bees and for our planet.
Bees and other pollinators are an important factor in our society’s food supply. So, this May 20th, thank bees and other pollinators for what they do, and maybe plant some flowers to show your appreciation. Let’s do our part to help the bees. Start by reading more about them! We have two great stories about bees –and many others on various topics– in our One Story a Day for Science series. Check them out and you’ll learn a bit more about these hard-working bees.