Link #54: Without Honeybees We Wouldn’t Be Able to Grow Food!


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Link #54: Without Honeybees We Wouldn’t Be Able to Grow Food!

New Zealand honey bee
New Zealand honey bee. Image credit: Andy Murray cc2.0

It seems that organisms that live in a hive colony tend to have some special powers. We explained the multiple super powers of the naked mole rat in our last post but the big question is, what special powers do honeybees possess?

As you most probably already know, bees also live in hive colonies and if they are anything like naked mole rats then they must possess some special powers too. While the special powers of the naked mole rat are linked to its survival capabilities, honeybees have the power of creation.

They are vital to our capability of growing food. In fact, the survival of mankind and virtually every other living organism on the planet depends on honeybees. Without honeybees, mankind will lose its ability to grow food. How is this possible? Consider this.

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How Much Do We Depend on Honeybees for Our Food?

Foods by Keith Weller, USDA ARS PD image

According to experts from the United Nations, 90 percent of the food that the world consumes is drawn from 100 specific species of crops. Of these 100 species of crops, about 70 rely on honeybees to complete their reproductive cycles.

If honeybees were endangered then pollination of these specific crop species will become difficult. This would, in turn, cause the planet’s food production capability to go down drastically.

What Is Pollination and Why Is It Important?

Pollination of Dandelion by a bee – it can seen the polen carryed by the bee on its body. Image credit: Guérin Nicolas GFDL v1.2

In simple terms, pollination is a process by which plants and trees produce baby plants. Without pollination, new plants would become impossible. Honeybees are vital to the entire process of pollination in nature even though insects, birds and bats have a role to play in it too. The process works thus.

  1.  Plants and trees grow brightly coloured flowers and, sometimes, fruits to attract pollinating agents such as honeybees.
  2. The honeybees get attracted to the flower and start eating the nectar that they later convert to honey in their hives. While they are sucking at the nectar, the pollen in the flower gets rubbed onto their limbs. When the honeybee leaves the flower to go to another flower, the pollen remains stuck to its limbs and goes with it.
  3.  When the honeybee alights on another flower to suck the nectar there, the pollen falls off its limbs into the flower. The pollen then makes its way into the flower to fertilise the plant. As a result of this process, this plant can now grow.

Effectively, it can be said that honeybees play the role of messengers or delivery boys between one tree and another. Without them, the number of new plants will slowly start to decline to a point when even the old plants start to die out. Without honeybees, the world would become a barren place.

Did You Know That Bees Are Slowly Dying All over the World?

A 2007 RoGator 1264 Liquid Sprayer applying pesticide to a corn field. Image credit: Pl77 cc3.0

According to experts from the United Nations, bee colonies have been dying all over the world. There are multiple reasons for this.

These include the use of bad insecticides and chemicals in agriculture, development of new types of pathogens, natural competition from African bees and Asian hornets, extinction of plants, artificial interference in honeybees’ electromagnetic guidance mechanisms and even overall climate change.

Each of these reasons is a combination of direct or indirect human actions. For instance, insecticides and chemicals in agriculture are direct, while climate change and electromagnetic disturbance from high tension electrical wires are indirect.

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