The Benefits of Bees
At U.S. Pest, it’s our job to keep you, your family, and your home safe by eliminating the types of undesirable bugs and critters that are commonly referred to as “pests.” However, the term “pest” is highly subjective. You might consider your annoying coworker or your loud neighbor to be a pest, but that doesn’t mean that we can come “eliminate” them for you. Likewise, not every bug that you find bothersome should be exterminated. Some of these tiny misunderstood organisms do a lot more to help us than hurt us, and one specific group of them needs our help: bees.
We know that you might not like bees, and we understand. Getting stung by a bee can be very painful, and that can make bees seem scary! But even though bees can be scary, a world without them would be absolutely terrifying.
Why Are Bees So Important?
That means that they help plants reproduce. A plant’s reproductive material is called pollen, and unless a plant has the ability to self-pollinate (most of them don’t), they need help carrying out the reproductive process. This help can come from the wind, or it can come in the form of small insects or animals that carry pollen from one plant to the next. The plants who receive this pollen need it in order to produce seeds. Mobility is an insurmountable challenge for plants, so they depend on these small insects and animals for pollination. There are many different kinds of pollinators, such as birds, bats, spiders, and lizards, but the most prominent among them are bees.
Bees are attracted to flowers because the plant’s nectar and pollen are food for them, providing them with all the vitamins and proteins that they need to carry on living. Bees fly from one flower to the next to collect pollen to bring back to their hive where they will share a meal with their fellow bees. However, with each new flower they land on, they leave behind little bits of pollen from the previous flowers they have visited. This means that pollination from bees is tied to the very survival of their species. This has made them arguably the planet’s foremost pollinator, and it didn’t happen by accident.
Earth’s bee-driven pollination mechanisms are a finely-tuned machine. Bees have co-evolved with every variety of flowering plant over the course of many millions of years to perform these tasks in the way that they do, and ecosystems across the globe have developed to depend on this. This includes the ecosystems that we humans depend on as well!
There is a wide spectrum of plant life that exists on the planet earth, and within that realm, the fruit-bearing plants are often the ones that need the help of pollinators such as bees to reproduce. This means that bees are directly responsible for helping to produce many of the foods that larger animals (like humans) depend on.
What Would Happen Without Bees?
We’d starve without bees.
That’s the short answer at least, and a bit of an over-simplification, but definitely not far-fetched. Here are a few of the things that would happen if our bee population suddenly disappeared…
Most Of Our Crops Would Die
Roughly 84% of the crops that are cultivated for human consumption are directly dependent on 3rd party pollinators. This includes upwards of 400 different types fruits, vegetables, nuts, and plants that are used to make things like coffee, tea, and cocoa. That already covers a HUGE amount of the food that we consume, but there’s more…
Most of Our Livestock Would Die
Humans are not the only animals that depend on plants for food. What about the plants that we feed to our livestock? The organic material that we use as fodder to feed livestock depends on pollination. Cows, pigs, sheep, chickens—they all depend on bees to ensure the survival of their sources of food. No bees means no plants means no food for livestock. But livestock are just the beginning…
Many of Earth’s Remaining Herbivores Would Face Extinction
Our livestock are not the only ones in the animal kingdom that eat plants to survive. Herbivores around the world—even those that are not typically eaten by humans—also eat plants in order to survive. Deer, moose, gazelles, buffalos, goats; they all depend on bees to pollinate their food for them. But they themselves are food for an entire other class of animal…
Which Would Put Our Carnivores In Extreme Danger
Now let’s move up the food chain to nature’s meat-eaters. We humans can survive on plants alone if we have to, but some animals depend on the meat of other animals for nutrients. If our herbivores died-out, then carnivores like lions, tigers, wolves, and bears would starve to death.
There Would Also Be Severe Economic Fallout
We depend on food for survival, but it’s also a massive industry with strong ties throughout the global economy. The loss of cash crops and livestock would send shockwaves through the world of commerce, as many major players in the food industry go out of business sending unemployment rates through the roof. It’s also worth noting that cotton is also pollinated by bees, and thus would also disappear, leaving us without one of our most important industrial products. In total, the world’s bee population is valued at $170 billion.
Protecting Our Bee Population
Bee populations have been in a sharp decline for the past few years, and while the scientific community is still in the process of investigating the reasons why, one thing has become abundantly clear: pesticides are a huge part of the problem.
We use pesticides to rid our garden of unwanted pests, and at a glance, it might seem like they do their job well, but the truth is that pesticides have a large amount of unintended consequences as well. Among those consequences is the decline of our bee population. Of course, the majority of the pesticides being sprayed in the United States and beyond are out of your control, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a difference.
Our job at U.S. Pest is to help you get rid of pests. We understand that the word “pest” can introduce some ambiguity and subjectivity into the equation, so today we’re going to set the record straight.
Bees are not pests!
We actually depend on bees for survival, so let’s not bite the hand that feeds us. If we get rid of our bees, we get rid of ourselves.
To learn more about how you can get involved and become a force for good in the natural world, visit our Bee Aware page. There you’ll find lots of ways that you can chip in and make a difference.