Bees as small as they are provide many basic activities for humans and other animals in general.
While going about their job of collecting pollen and nectar, they actually carry out an important task of pollination.
There are about 20,000 bee species in the world and they are responsible for pollinating about 80% of the food crops and vegetables that humans eat.
Bees also provide food in the form of honey and brood for other animals.
Bees are very important to our ecosystem as they help to balance our biodiversity, however the bee population has been in serious decline over the years with whole species getting extinct.
The loss of bee species spells unfavorable consequences for the ecosystem.
Today we will discuss how bee activities affect humans and animals and how their loss will affect us.
7 Ways Bees are Beneficial to other animals
Bees are important and beneficial to humans and other animals even plants and trees in many ways and some of them include:
- Pollination of farm crops and fruits
- Enhancing wildlife habitat by pollinating trees and shrubs
- Bees encourage biodiversity by pollinating various flowers
- Provision of food for other animals – honey, small berries and fruits that come from pollination activities.
- Bees sustain the food chain by serving as food to other mammals.
- Bee serve as hosts to other organisms such as the varroa mite
- The bees serve as environmental indicators- the decline in their population alerts humans to environmental degradation.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on what colors do bees like?
What Animals Depend On Bees?
A large variety of animals depend on bees for food. Most wildlife habitats are pollinated by bees and this ensures the availability of food for these animals.
By pollinating the trees and shrubs in the forests, such trees are able to grow flowers and wild fruits which serves as sources of food for a large range of animals.
The flowers and branches of such trees also serve as shelters and nesting places for the animals.
Humans, although higher animals, depend on the bees for the pollination of our food crops and other farm produce.
Honey produced by the bees is a favorite substance for humans used as a sweetener.
Humans also utilize other bee products such as beeswax for candles, cosmetics and art.
Apart from humans some other animals such as hornets, lizards, wasps, bears, frogs, yellowjackets, squirrels and racoons to mention a few depend on the bees for their food supplies.
What Do Bees Do For Other Animals?
Bees provide food for a large number of wild animals by the act of pollination.
Pollination is the process of fertilizing plants by moving pollen from one plant to another.
This movement helps the plants to produce fruits, seeds, leaves and vegetables.
Insects are the world’s greatest pollinators and bees make up a larger number of this due to their social nature.
Due to their activities, trees, shrubs, farm crops and leaves blossom and provide food for animals all around the world including humans.
Bees also do their part in sustaining the food chain. Some animals prey on the bees as food.
Skunks, bears, racoons and hive beetles. Skunks eat insects and would most often return to a particular hive repeatedly to eat the bees and brood until the hive is destroyed.
Bears love honey as much as humans do and will smash and destroy a hive to get to the honeycombs.
Also check out this article I wrote about bees stinging other bees
Do Bees Work With Other Animals?
Most bee species are solitary in nature and the social bees such as the bumble and honeybees keep close to their kind and mind their business as they go about their daily activities.
However they interact with other animals in the ecosystem whether serving as the predator or the prey.
Bees have been discovered to be able to learn from other species and they can also communicate threats from predators by observing the behavior of other species.
We can also say some species of bees such as honeybees work with humans by letting them take some honey while getting protection and food such as corn syrup during nectar scarce periods.
Bee species mostly go about with their kinds, a honeybee colony will work together to ensure their growth and survival.
However they interact with various animals and organisms within the ecosystem.
Why Do Animals Need Bees?
Animals need bees to survive because the bees’ major purposes include pollination of plants and trees and provision of food to such animals.
A large variety of animals such as flies, wasps, bats and rodents contribute to pollinating flowers all around the world.
Of all these species though, the bees and especially the honeybees are the most important type of pollinator.
One honeybee can visit between 50-100 flowers in one foraging trip and one colony has thousands of worker bees which go out to forage everyday.
These activities cause the flowers and trees to bear fruit which serves as a source of food to the animals.
Bees also serve their purpose in the ecosystem by ensuring the food chain is continuously supplied.
They serve as prey to a number of animals such as the skunk and hive beetle who eat the bee populations.
Other organisms such as the varroa mite live in the body of the bees and they suck out the hemoglobin of the bee and replicate.
This weakens the bee and can sometimes result in death for the bee.
Why Are Bees Important To Food Production?
Most of the food crops produced by humans are pollinated by the activities of the bee.
Bees, especially the honey bee pollination, go out everyday to collect pollen and nectar for the colony.
When they fly from one flower to another, they drop pollen grains as they go there cross pollinating the flowers.
Bee pollination is also quite important because they are able to pollinate the same kind of flowers.
Bees are responsible for the growth and availability of the food crops we eat. If crop plants are not pollinated the fruit will be few in number and not well developed.
Some of the food crops we eat are pollinated by crops include, berries, tomatoes, citrus, watermelons, asparagus, alfalfa, squash, cucumber to mention but a few.
In the US and UK the bees are responsible for about 80% of food crop production and their contributions to agriculture all over the world runs to billions of dollars annually.
Commercial farmers tend to either raise bees or attract them to their farms to ensure pollination of their crop plants.
Will Humans Die Without Bees
Humans and other animals would not necessarily die if bees ceased to exist in the world. The bee population has been declining in recent times and whole species of bees are becoming extinct.
Apart from giving us honey and beeswax, bees are very important in pollination activities which contribute greatly to agricultural activities.
More than 80% of the food we consume is available to us through the pollination activities of bees.
If bees are totally extinct, as unlikely as the prospect may be, human food systems will be altered but will not cause death or famine.
This is because cereal grains are pollinated by the wind and most of the calories we take in are from those cereals.
However, most fruit and vegetable plants are pollinated by the bees and their loss could lead to less diversity of fresh and healthy produce for humans to eat.
As such the food system will change greatly and it would cause a major disturbance in the ecosystem.
Humans could turn to hand or machine population however this cannot be as effective and dynamic as the bee foraging activities which leads to pollination.
How Will The Loss Of Bees Affect The Ecosystem?
Bees are disappearing from the ecosystem gradually and at an alarming rate.
Researchers have been carrying out studies on the reasons for the bee population decline in recent times.
A major reason for bee decline is the use of harmful pesticides around plants, when the bees land on such plants they are weakened by the harmful substances and the widespread use has led to the decline in their population.
The loss of bees will have dire effects on food supplies the world over.
Bee pollinated crops will be less available and humans will have to rely on other methods such as wind pollination or hand pollination.
This would mean that food stores and supermarkets would probably be half empty and the available food would not be enough to sustain the earth’s human population
Their loss would also significantly upset the food chain as bees pollinate trees in the wild thereby providing food for numerous animals out in the wild.
Animals who also prey on the bees for food and honey would also find their food sources empty which would generate a reaction throughout the food chain.
The uses of bees to humans, plants and other animals in the ecosystem are wide and exhaustive.
They provide an important function to all of us and as little as they are, they are responsible for providing us with a large amount of our daily supplies of food.
Human activities such as the destruction of wildlife habitats, pesticide use and harmful farming practices are some of the major causes of the decline of the bee population.
We as humans should endeavor to engage in habits that are less harmful to our little friends and the ecosystem in general.