We rely on bees for much more than just their honey, in fact, it’s estimated that 71% of crops which provide 90% of foods worldwide are pollinated with the help of bees. So, as we’re met with news that bee populations are declining globally due to a number of factors including climate change and pesticides, we need to be aware of the consequences of not taking care of our fuzzy friends.
Bats, butterflies and even wasps are able to pollinate however none of these have the same capabilities as the bee. With around 20,000 species around the world, including the bumblebee and honeybee, they're considered the most valuable pollinator because of their ability to be kept and managed by beekeepers. Here are a few food items we at Camping in the Forest would be very sad to see go:
Coffee bean plants often self-pollinate however the involvement of insects contributes to the success and yield of the crops. If the bees weren’t around to give a helping hand, the amount of coffee beans grown would significantly decrease and the price of your average latte would skyrocket.
Fun fact: Research has found that it’s not only us humans that get a buzz from a hot cup of coffee. Some plants hold small amounts of caffeine in their nectar which bees find highly rewarding.
Bees pollinate all bell peppers and chilli peppers which make up the ingredient list of most spicy condiments. Next time you reach for the hot sauce to spice up your favourite dish remember that it’s packed full with veggies and flavour thanks to the bees!
Plums, strawberries, cherries and apricots are just a few of the fruits to mention which are predominantly pollinated by bees. A diminishing berry population might not seem like a red flag at first but think about how many of your favourite dishes use the juicy gems. Toast really wouldn’t be the same without them.
If we woke up tomorrow and there wasn’t a single bee left, grapes would be under serious threat. Many vineyards will keep bee hives to ensure a steady flow of pollinators and a high yielding crop. Without the sought-after diversity of plants and insects which bees create around vineyards, an occasional glass of red or white may be a thing of the past.
Without bees to pollinate the flowers and plants which cows enjoy on a daily basis, they’d inevitably go hungry. Hungry cows tend not to produce lots of milk which would lead to a decrease in production of some of the world’s favourite dairy-based products, including ice cream, milkshake and cheese.
Flowering plants create the base of many medicines, both alternative and conventional. Availability of many modern medicines decreasing could become a messy affair. Not only would prices increase but splitting the remaining medicines between countries could become problematic.
As well as cows missing out on their food source and being less able to produce milk, smaller animals will also suffer. Mammals which survive off the berries and seeds from the plants pollinated by bees would go hungry. Carnivores that prey on these smaller mammals would then suffer and the effects would travel up the food chain.
Could the decline of the humble bee lead to conflict?
If, due to a devastating lack of conservation effort and diverse pressures, the global bee population became extinct, the human race would most likely be able to survive on wind pollinated crops. These include wheat, rice and corn. Although the lack of diversity in the food chain would lead to shortages and in turn this may lead to disputes over who gets to mandate the distribution of food. It would make today’s varying diet a boring affair.
How you can give the bees a helping hand
There are a few simple ways you can help the bees, the main one being spreading awareness of the problems global populations are facing. We'll be going into lots of detail on what you can do to help out our furry friends in the coming months as part of our Bee Kind campaign. Stay tuned and in the meantime you can help us spread the Bee Kind message by sharing this blog with your social media friends and followers to get the word out.