The Invaluable Role Bees Play in Our Environment—And Our Future
Summer is a time when many go to more pastoral settings to take in the fragrance of wild flowers growing in fields and enjoy the taste of fresh fruit and vegetables. This idyllic experience, however, is not possible without an insect that most people take for granted: bees. Have you ever thought about the role our buzzing friends play in this? Bees do not just make honey; they are essential for agriculture and providing food for humans.
What makes bees so valuable?
According to the US Department of Agriculture, bees pollinate more than 90 types of agricultural crops. If all bees died, we would have to go without many varieties of foods and flavors, including spices, cucumbers, sesame seeds, apples, berries, coffee, almonds, and maybe some dairy products as well (because some of the plants pollinated by bees are part of cows’ diets).
Bumblebees—insects closely related to honeybees—are extensively used in greenhouses. Bumblebee pollination is much more efficient and quicker than manual pollination by human workers. A bumblebee can pollinate 10 million flowers in a week. In addition to that, bumblebees are peaceful insects and they are rarely aggressive to humans, which makes them safer and more suitable colleagues to work with in enclosed spaces. Unlike honeybees, who are known to be long-range fliers, bumblebees tend to stay close to home. All these factors make them ideal pollinators to use in greenhouses.
From clay hives to sensors
Beekeeping was well known and practiced even in ancient Egypt. As early as four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians made hives out of clay and moved them on special rafts up and down the Nile to pollinate flowers that were in season.
The beekeepers of today have more advanced technologies at their disposal. For example, special sensors help them measure temperature, humidity, and other beehive microclimate parameters. This technology allows beekeepers to monitor their bees’ health and productivity. Sound sensors track bees’ behavior and count the number of bees entering and leaving their beehives. Beekeepers can also keep online diaries where they can set reminders and tasks.
Currently, there are 2.5 million beehives and 212,000 beekeepers in the USA. But the country with the largest number of beehives – more than 12 million – is India. China, with its 9 million beehives, is the second largest beekeeping country, and Turkey, with its 8 million beehives, is the third.
Human impact on bees
There is evidence that bees are dying all over the world. Globally, the number of bee colonies has been reduced by 15 million over the past decade. At present, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Canada, about 40% of invertebrate pollinators are considered endangered species.
The main cause of bee mortality is believed to be the use of pesticides that crops are treated with.
How can we help?
– First of all, there is a trend to regulate the use of crop protection agents more strictly. For instance, a number of restrictions have been imposed on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.
– There are homes being built specially for bees in major cities. For example, many famous buildings in Paris (such as the Opéra Garnier and the buildings in the business district La Défence) have beehives on their rooftops.
Now, you know more about bees and their role in agriculture. Bazis has vast experience in agricultural marketing research. If you are interested in doing marketing research in agriculture or in any other field, don’t hesitate to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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