Harry Saridakis ’20
Have you ever had someone refer to you as “honey?” Imagine a world without that sweet sounding moniker. “Oh molasses, are you okay?” “Hey granulated sugar, how was your day today?” Honey is more than just a way your mother expresses her feelings. It is one of the many amazing things that bees produce.
But before I discuss how bees benefit the environment, let’s look at what honey bees really do. Aside from stinging people that threaten their hives, honey bees spend a lot of time traveling in search for plants to forage and bring pollen and nectar back to their hives in order to create their own food supply, honey. Just to make one pound of honey, these hard working bees must visit two million flowers, flying over 50,000 miles in this process! This is the equivalent to flying two times around the world, and bees do all this within a two-mile radius of their hive. To put this into perspective, each hive can weigh over one hundred pounds. But what exactly does all this busy work do for the environment and what are the benefits to bees?
Bees are beneficial to the environment by pollinating each plant, therefore effecting the entire ecosystem. Bees are the best pollinators in the world because they take the pollen from one species of a flower and spread it to the same flower species. While cross contamination of pollen is acceptable, the care and attention to detail by the bees creates a stronger pollination for each plant as well as a longer and more structured life. This increases the biodiversity of an ecosystem. Biodiversity is a critical component to a healthy environment. Through the pollination process, bees help increase the amount of plants and their resistance, therefore creating a stronger ecosystem which intrinsically attracts more animals to a thriving habitat. Plants aren’t the only thing that benefits from the bees, though. Animals also benefit because the pollination of plants leads to a more robust ecosystem with greater diversity and quantity of the food supply. Without pollination, one-third of our staple food supply such as broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupe, nuts, and apples, would cease to exist, and our economy would be considerably weaker. We also do not realize the impact that bees have on the economy: according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, between $235 and $577 billion worth of annual global food production relies directly on pollinators, through the trade of honey, beeswax candles and lip balm, agriculture, and other related products.
We benefit so much from the bees, and without these pollinators, the environment would collapse, leading to mass extinctions. It is important for humans to recognize the magnitude one tiny little bee has on the massive earth, because one day, if the bees stop buzzing, our world will stop turning. Imagine how much we take for granted: beautiful gardens, fruits, nuts, lotions, lip balms, and especially, honey. The bees alone can’t take care of the environment. We must help the bees by taking care of the environment too, which as a result, takes care of them. We should all live by two mottos, leave no trace and leave each place better than you left it. We can reduce our littering, pay attention to how man-made chemicals, like pesticides and lawn fertilizers, affect our environment, and critically think about how even the most minute action can have an enormous reaction. One bee can change your local ecosystem for the better, so the next time someone refers to you as “honey,” or you receive a dozen roses from your “honey,” don’t take it for granted because according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 90% of flowers are dependent on bee pollination. Think of how much of an impact honey bees have had on our lives, and how we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.