The natural ecosystem of planet Earth is based on many different components linked together to form a bubble of life. It involves different types of living organisms, such as plants, animals, insects, and even microscopic beings. It also depends on the geographic landscape and how it behaves, given its topographical features.
Each year “World Bee Day” is observed on May 20 internationally. So, why are bees regarded so much when it comes to the ecosystem and its sustenance? What would happen if these flying insects went extinct? To find out answers to all these important questions, it is very important for us to understand the importance of bees for the environment, but first, we’ll learn more about the different types of bees found in the world.
Types of Bees
There are hundreds of domestic and wild bee species around the world. The most important ones among them are as follows:
A honey bee (also spelled as honeybee) is any bee that produces honey. These species of bees are domesticated at a very large scale for the production of different types of honey, which include Buckwheat Honey, Clover Honey, Acacia Honey, Manuka Honey, and Wildflower Honey. Honey bees are socially active insects and they always live together. They build nests or hives, which help their colony thrive. It is where they also produce honey.
Bumble Bee (also spelled as bumblebee) is often referred to as humble-bee because of the way it behaves in the wild. These bees are found in many different parts of the world but are very common in places having temperate climates. They have recently been introduced in the ecosystems of Australia and Newzealand for the pollination of many different types of flowering plant species in these countries.
Carpenter Bee is also found in different regions around the world. There are two types of carpenter bees: the small ones and the large ones. The small ones prefer nesting in plant stems. On the other hand, the large carpenter bee, which looks quite similar to the Bumble Bee, prefers to nest in solid structures, especially structural woods found in buildings and other types of manmade structures.
Andrenidae is also known as the mining bee or digging bee. They are usually medium-sized flying insects with reddish-golden hair. They are solitary bees that like to nest on the ground. They prefer to make a home in well-drained soils. You may come across the nests of Andrenidae in clay found on hills as well as in road cut-outs. Mining bees have also been discovered burrowing in between man-made structures, such as old buildings and wood logs in barns.
It is recognized among the smallest types of bees. There are around 21 types of Stenotritidae, which are all found in the continent of Australasia. According to the experts studying bees, they belong to Colletidae and there are thousands of species of this family of bees. They produce liquid or semi-liquid masses of pollen for the development of larvae. Stenotritidae is a large hairy bee that likes to nest on the ground.
Colletidae belongs to the Apoidea bee family, which is based on eight different species. They look a lot like wasps and are very well known among bee experts for their primitive nature. They are further classified into five or six subfamilies, which are based on over 3,000 species. Dialictus also belongs to the Colletidae family. They are known as “sweat bees” because these species of bees are drawn to perspiration. Almost 50% of Colletidae bee species are found in the southern hemisphere, specifically in different parts of Africa and Australia.
Apidae is a family of bees that also includes many different types of honeybees. The very famous killer bee also belongs to the Apidae bee family. They are basically a mixture of European and African subspecies of honey bees, which produce a large amount of honey. Due to their highly adaptive nature, they have spread in many different parts of the world. Now, they are found in many different parts of the United States including Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. The number of Africanized honeybees is also increasing in Florida. They are among the most rapidly spreading types of bees.
Why Are Bees Important to the Environment?
Honey Bees, Solitary Bees, Bumble Bees, and all the other types of bees have a very crucial part to play when it comes to the sustenance of the ecosystem and food chain. Here we’ll take a look at the importance of bees for the environment from different aspects.
Bees are attracted to many different species of flowering plants. This is where all the basics of the pollination process begin. Pollination is one of the most important processes of the plant kingdom. It is because plants reproduce through pollination, which means they are heavily dependent on bees and other types of flying insects for pollinators.
The process of pollination is very simple. When a bee lands on a flower of a plant, it collects nectar. The male reproductive organ of that particular flower naturally sticks to the body of a bee, usually to its hair. The bee then flies to another flower and fertilizes it with the pollen of the previous plant.
Acting as pollinators, bees have a very important and noteworthy role to play in terms of nourishment and endurance of the ecosystem. They are vital to maintaining the ecological balance and preserving the biodiversity of the natural environment. Bees support the growth of many different types of flowering plants and trees.
By taking care of the pollination process for the growth of the different types of herbaceous plants and bushes, bees significantly take part in the process of food production for many different types of animal and bird species, adding to the diversity and growth of the natural ecosystem.
Since bees add to the natural biodiversity, they are considered very important when it comes to sustainability and the future of farming. Unfortunately, the population of bees around the world is decreasing. It is considered a major threat by environmentalists and agriculture experts around the world.
To counter such an issue, the concept of sustainable agriculture is becoming more and more popular. Along with preserving the population of different types of bees, farmers and other stakeholders have been advised to focus more on sustainable agriculture strategies, which are expected to yield fruitful results. The stakeholders are doing all possible efforts for effective collaboration and timely communication between farmers and beekeepers to improve the situation. It is not about saving bees but also about protecting the many benefits associated with their very existence.
The biodiversity and pollination properties of bees make them one of the most crucial elements in terms of environmental protection. Our entire food chains depend on the process of pollination, which is basically the fertilization and breeding process of plants — helping them to grow and multiply in number.
These plants make forests, which provide habitats for many different animals and birds. Pollinators like bees are also highly beneficial for the field of agriculture. In a nutshell, it is safe to conclude that all our natural environments are thriving because of the presence of different types of bee species.
Bees are an excellent food source. They produce honey, which is not only delicious and extremely good for health but is also widely used for medicinal and healing purposes. As discussed, there are many different types of honey that are rich in nutrients, which makes them a very good source of energy.
Along with providing us with honey, they move from flower to flower to start the pollination process in plants to fertilize them. We consume a large variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Most of these fruits and vegetables come from the vegetation that was pollinated with the help of bees. This means bees are either directly or indirectly connected to everything we consume, making them a very important food source for us.
That wraps up our detailed article on the importance of bees for the environment. They play a very significant role in pollinating crops and scientists are undertaking some really serious efforts to save them from going extinct.