The collapse of bee colonies worldwide known as Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD, a disorder where worker bees, which are of great importance for the survival of the beehive, have been dying in significant numbers in the last couple of decades. This is a worrying phenomenon that has left scientists baffled and unable to pinpoint the exact causes although climate changes, use of pesticides, and diseases have been identified as contributing factors. Such dire news highlights how we often overlook the vital role that these little winged insects play in providing food for humans and other species.
It is important to recognize how crucial bees are to the overall continuance of life on Earth as we know it. To imagine a scenario where bees no longer exist paints a bleak picture and it illustrates how even the smallest creatures can have the biggest effect.
Here are five points on what would happen in a world devoid of these tiny busybodies:
1. Pollination Would Stop
Bees are pollinators. It means that they along with other insects, birds and bats carry out pollination – they fertilize by the transference of pollen so that plants and flowers can bear fruit. About a third of our food supplies are pollinated by bees. They pollinate apples, pears, melons, peaches and many other vegetables as well.
Without bees, the world’s population would starve. Also, commercial agriculture that depends on bees to pollinate their key crops to supply to the masses would collapse and businesses would shut down causing massive economic repercussions around the world.
Simply put, the existence of bees is paramount as they help in pollination which we depend upon for our food supply.
“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” ―
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
2. Food Chains and Food Webs in Disorder
Food webs and food chains would collapse. Not only are bees important for livestock and domesticated animals that rely on bee-pollinated plants, but wild mammals and birds also depend on pollination for the supply of their food on these humble creatures. A world devoid of bees would signal the demise of complex food chains and food webs that delicately balances the existence of all living creatures on this planet.
3. A World without Trees
Bees help pollinate not just plants, but also trees which include fruit trees. On a planet without bees, the surface of our home would be barren and the vast richness of Earth’s green cover would disappear. This would, in turn, affect the abundance of wildlife and species that survive in their forest and jungle habitats.
“If some catastrophe destroyed all the bees on our planet, some 100,000 species of plants would disappear and man would be hard put to eke out a living.” ― City Of Bees, Quote Page 6, Column 1, Lodi, California.
(Google News Archive)
A treeless Earth would make its inhabitants more susceptible to natural disasters like floods and landslides which are mitigated by the presence of tree roots that holds together the soil. Not only does it lessen such dangers, the presence of tree roots retains the nutrients in the soil on which we grow our food.
4. The Earth’s Biodiversity Would Suffer
Our blue planet is so far (as we know it) the only planet that sustains life; it boasts of a rich biodiversity that makes it a unique place in the vast cosmic mystery we know of as the universe.
The rich biodiversity of our home planet is in part contributed by the existence of bees and their role in pollination. As these bees fly from flower to flower, plant to plant, they transfer pollen that allows plants to get fertilized and yield crops, fruits and vegetables.
Not only are they of utmost importance to humans and other species, by they also pollinate gardens, wild country sides and add to the beauty of the Earth’s landscape.
Without bees, our planet would be bereft of its beauty and its biodiversity greatly reduced.
5. The Significance of Humans, Bees and Cultural Associations Would be Lost
Science aside, a philosophical take on a world without bees renders a world that would have lost many a great lesson on how ideal societies function and the cultural association of humans with honey would be lost.
Bee colonies display a structured society where a queen is tended to by an army of worker bees. Their efficient and selfless societies can teach us on how human societies can function ideally as well.
“The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know that and to wonder at it.” Jacques Yves Cousteau
Not only this, the production of honey by bees has been an intrinsic part of human cultural narratives. Honey, in human societies across millennia, has played a significant role in our cultures and it is revered as an elixir of health, carrying spiritual significance and recognized for its medicinal properties. It has been treasured by the ancients and has not lost its significance even in this day and age. A world devoid of these creatures would mean the loss of a rich cultural association.
There isn’t any doubt that bees are integral to our existence and the sustaining of earth’s rich biodiversity. We owe much respect for these small but critically important insects that allow life to thrive on this planet.
Author Bio: Anuradha Menezes
I love the beauty and balance of nature and love writing about the amazing discoveries we continue to uncover.