Written by Ashleigh
BSc (Hons) Geography
It’s International Honeybee Day! This is a day to raise awareness and celebrate the contribution that honeybees make to our lives, with the aim of protecting this important species.
Why are Honeybees so special?
Honeybees are pollinators (among other species such as butterflies, beetles and bumble bees, but today isn’t about them so they can wait their turn!), which means that they transfer pollen between flowering plants. This therefore makes them pretty essential for maintaining a stable and healthy environment….and for our food supply. Most of the plants we rely on for food production depend on pollination. Foods such as coffee, tomatoes, almonds, apples, oranges, vegetable oils to cook with, pears, blackberries and blueberries are all foods pollinated by honeybees, as well as food used to feed livestock such as clover, alfafa and beans for all the meat eaters out there… and that is only a fraction of the list. Over 90% of the leading global crop types are pollinated by bees (all types, not just the honeybee).This means that the decline of the honeybee is something we should all be working to prevent, as they are pretty important to all of us in one way or another.
Beyond the obvious production of DELICIOUS honey; a sweetener used all over the world, honey-bees also produce wax used in products such as soap, candles, lip balm…and I’m willing to bet you have used at least one of those in the last 24 hours! In addition to all of these products that rely on honeybees, they also pollinate approximately 80% of wildflowers in Europe, bringing value to our beautiful countryside as well!
This vital species is however, under serious threat shown by a world-wide decline in the species. Loss of this vital species could reduce availability of important crops, therefore slowing food production and impacting upon public health and food security, not to mention diminishing the picturesque flowers that appear because of them.
So… how can I help?
You can help by getting involved with organisations such as Friends of the Earth, that organise events and movements to prevent the decline of all species of honeybee. Actions include asking the government to reduce harmful pesticides, and being involved with Bee surveys, so recording and reporting when you see/don’t see species of bee to help scientists understand them better. If you have a back garden, you could also try creating bee hotels to help provide shelter for the bees, seeing as in the last half century they have experienced a severe loss of their natural habitat. You can also just do something as small and easy as making smarter choices, such as choosing organic fruit and vegetables.
BU’s Fusion Building at Talbot Campus became a home for a colony of honey bees in 2019! Watch the video that shows their BU debut here
I hope that this has helped you to understand the species of the honey bees a little better! Two of my friends studying Ecology and Wildlife Conservation, George Belcher Truss and Yve Jones are passionate about this topic, and provided the fantastic photography included in this article. If you are interested in this topic, they have kindly said that they don’t mind being contacted via LinkedIn if you have any further questions, so just search their names if you do!
Find out more
If you would like to find out more or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact either George or Yve (details above). If you want to help some more, check out this website for 10 ways to save the honey bees (thats the goal!)