So, why bees? Why are they important, and why do I busy myself with trying to raise awareness to protect them?
Well, as some of you may be aware if you have seen any other article on ‘saving the bees’, they are fairly crucial in the role of pollination. Pollination is the exchanging of male sex cells (pollen) in a flowers anther with the female stigma. This is the ‘sexual’ reproduction that allow the plant to produce its fruit, which contain its seeds with which it can reproduce. This process is important not just so plants can get freaky with each other, but so that we can farm their fruit (harvest) in agriculture. Not many people may be aware, but roughly 50% of your local supermarkets produce section relies on bees and their pollination. Items such as citrus, avocados, eggplant, celery, green onions, and many more need pollination in order to be cultivated (see article on which produce would be missing here). Bees do this pollination as a byproduct of collecting pollen to produce their own delicious produce, and it is this relationship that has resulted in much of our modern idea of normal fruit and veg.
Many people’s perceptions of bees are that they can be a bit of a dangerous pest, but they really are important. However, something you might not see on other pro-bee blogs, is that bees don’t effect any staple foodstuffs; this being corn, potato, rice, etc. Also that the role of pollination can be accomplished by human intervention. People can go around with a q-tip and rub pollen all up and down flowers, and achieve the required harvest. This practice has been been picked up by some Chinese apple farmers due to the decline of bees. This practice (hand-pollination) has been used for a long time when very select breeding wants to be achieved such as creating new varieties. So losing bees would mean that all the flowering agriculture across the world would need to be manually pollinated. Bees seem to be a more appealing solution, although it is interesting to look at the effects of what a bee-less society looks like already.
So save these little furry wingmen, and continue to enjoy a nice, luscious array of fruit and veg at your local market or greengrocer.