Last updated on June 5, 2020
In this special edition of Kothabriksha marking the World Environment Day, we ask all our readers to pledge for the protection and conservation of the planet’s natural environment and ecosystems. At this point in time, saving our environment is the one and only effort that can put the brakes on the already developing process of our extinction.
For taking steps towards the protection and conservation of nature, we must know nature in detail. Such a large spectrum of numerous living species, natural habitats, ecosystems, symbiotic relationships, flora and fauna, a network of co-existence and everything that relates to nature must be studied carefully to work for its sustainable conservation.
This article will shed light on the reason why one particular species was declared the most important living species on planet earth by the Earthwatch Institute in a recent meeting of the Geographical Society of London.
So, What is the most important living species on this planet?
Bees are the most important living species on this planet as per international conservation nonprofit Earthwatch Institute.
How does the work of the bees directly impact the food production system?
Bees are one of the main pollinators and pollinators are crucial for the maintenance of proper health of our environment.
According to a research study by environmental scientist Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, honeybees cater up to 14% of the total pollination on this planet. So honeybees and their work are directly related to the food production system and in turn the well being of humankind. As per the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), almost 75% of the world’s crops producing fruits and seeds for human consumption depend (atleast in part) on pollinators for sustained production, yield and quality.
One third of the food that we eat every day depends on pollination. A large number of fruits (apples, pears, blackberries, cherries, peaches, citrus fruit, kiwis, melons, etc) and vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, beetroot, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, cucumber, swedes and others) require pollination. Numerous flowering food crops (almonds, blueberry, canola, sunflower and others) depend on pollination (wild honeybees and other insects) for their production, yield and growth.
What is the contribution of Bees to the whole ecosystem and the global economy?
The Bees play a great role in the sustainable development of an ecosystem and they lead the planet ultimately towards co-existence, a green future and biodiversity. It helps in pollination, enhancing plant growth, which in turn leads to food sources for all species of the animal kingdom. If all the species have proper food source, there will be no conflict. Facilitating plant growth also enhances sustainable development and conservation of wildlife habitat. These forests and natural habitats are also home to 60 million indigenous people. So these also create a home for human beings. The honey created by the bees is also a food source for a lot of insects and animals. Human beings consume honey both as food and also as an ingredient in cosmetic products.
Every year, pollination from honey bees, native bees, flies and other insects create billions of dollars in economic value. They play a critical role in global economics and agricultural economics.
Between 235 and 577 billion US dollars worth of annual global food production relies on the direct contribution of pollinators.
What is the current scenario of bees in the world?
The population of bees is decreasing at a very fast rate which has become a global concern for scientists, nature conservationists, and food experts. The dwindling of bee population will have a tremendous impact on food production, ecosystem, health, wildlife habitat, global economy and agricultural economics. A peculiar process called the Colony Collapse Disorder has started happening where bee colonies are getting destroyed and are decreasing in number. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a unique phenomenon which happens when a large part of the worker bees in a honey bee colony disappear, leaving behind a queen bee, plenty of food, and a few nurse bees. Bees are now under endangered list of species.
What are the probable causes of colony collapse?
As per scientists and experts, Firstly its happening due to the invasive Varroa mite, a pest of bees. Secondly, due to continuous attack by parasites. Thirdly, due to excessive use of pesticides and intensive farming. Fourth, bee colonies are getting devastated due to the mass scale deforestation. They are losing the atmosphere and habitats in which they can live and grow. Fifth, the climate change and growing temperatures cause the degradation of bee health. The combined effect of all these factors causes this serious adverse effect on the bee population.
What can be done?
Firstly, if we can develop bee habitats in a proper way, the dying bee population can be saved. Developing bee habitats means planting flowering trees which attract bees and provide space for their life and growth. Secondly, bee blocks with holes of various shapes and sizes can be used, bees will thrive on them. Thirdly, extensive campaign can be hosted against excessive use of pesticides, especially, neonicotinoids. Fourthly, finding out local or global beekeepers and support them in whatever way we can.
These methods, if followed as per process and strategy, can yield amazing results.
What is the future?
We need to save the bees by all possible means. Without the bees there will be a massive pollination crisis globally leading to food chain disturbance and food production system breakdown. It will also lead to the destruction of wildlife habitats and other natural ecosystems. Also, global economy and agricultural economy, which is already on a declining curve, will be face an irreversible crisis. If we are unable to save the bees, our extinction (the process for which has already started) will not take much time.
Pratyay Raha: Nature lover, deep interest in sustainable tourism, nature and wildlife conservation. Music & Folk culture enthusiast, profound interest in the history and the language of music. Founder and co-editor of Kothabriksha.