It’s incredible to think that a tiny (and sometimes annoying) insect such as the honeybee is so important to humans. Honeybees help humans in many ways, from giving us food to fueling the local and international economy. Therefore, shrinking bee populations have become such a primary concern for both beekeepers and the general public. Research suggests that bee populations are decreasing by 30% each year, and the current population is at its lowest point in 50 years.
With the mysterious disappearance of bees, more people are paying attention to how bees benefit humans. It would be disastrous to imagine our world without bees. But the good news is that you can help support local bee populations in many ways.
Why are bees important to humans?
You may be wondering why there’s so much concern around shrinking bee populations. The high level of concern is because honeybees vital to human well-being. These tiny insects help us in the following ways.
- Honey bees are a big reason why we harvest
Because honeybees are master pollinators, they’re responsible for fueling the growth of many different food crops. Our farmers in Florida wouldn’t be able to harvest large quantities of apples, lemons, oranges, carrots, or almonds without the hard work of honeybees. To put it in perspective, 75% of the world’s food crops rely on pollinators.
During pollination, pollen from the male part of a flower is transferred to the female element- and fertilization occurs. Fertilization then produces seeds that can grow into a new plant. Honeybees are naturally built for pollination. When they suck nectar from flowers, pollen is trapped on their tiny hairs, wings, and “pollen baskets” on their legs. This pollen is then spread to other flowers, and farmers get to enjoy a healthy harvest.
- Where would we be without honey?
Perhaps the most apparent benefit of honeybees is that they produce honey. The nectar that bees collect from flowers is mixed with wax and an enzyme from the bee’s body to create this tasty treat.
Bees must work hard to produce honey- as each worker bee may visit up to 100 flowers when collecting nectar during just one trip. This is part of the reason why shrinking bee populations are a top concern for both farmers and local communities.
When honey is collected from hives or nests, it is used for various purposes. We use honey for food, cosmetic reasons, and medical applications. Honey is probably present in your facial cream, in your food ingredients, and some of your medicines.
- They play an important role in biodiversity
Bees are not just pollinators, but specialists in pollination. This means that some species of bees only pollinate specific types of plants and flowers. In Florida, these plant species are highly dependent on bees so they can keep producing seeds and other new plants. Therefore, bees promote the diverse growth of plants in our Florida habitats and beyond.
- Honey bees fuel the local and global economy
Because bees are important in promoting the growth of food crops, they also fuel our domestic and international economies. Food crops are typically transported and consumed across borders, and they account for a large portion of the revenue we receive from trading with other countries.
Simply put, the absence of bees would result in significant economic losses and even possible food insecurity.
How to support your local bee populations
With how important bees are to humans, we should all play an active role in protecting our bees. You can do a lot to help support your local bee populations in Florida.
- Create a home for the bees
If you have a farm or garden, you can make this space more welcoming for honeybees. First, avoid clearing out bee habitats such as nests, logs, or mulch. You should also use minimal harmful pesticides that may poison your local bees.
- Support local bee-keepers
Next time you’re looking for honey-based products, visit your local flea market in Florida. Local beekeepers work hard to sustain and grow the bee population, and they need your support. Also consider donating products that may assist beekeepers- such as hives, glass jars, seeds, and fertilizer.
- Plant bee-friendly vegetation
Landscaping also helps local bees. Plant a diverse selection of species that bees love to feed on. Sunflowers, lavender, and dragonhead are just a few plants that grow well in Florida and will give bees a year-round supply of food.