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  Category: Articles » Education & Reference » Science » Article

What Is So Great About Bees Anyway?

By Gerry

Without bees, the human race is unlikely to have advanced as quickly as it has. In fact, even today our survival depends on the humble but industrious honey bee and the humble and industrious beekeeper.

An over-generalization? Perhaps, but let us look at the work of bees and honeybees in particular and see how this might be true. Understanding the relationship between bees and plants will help us to understand how they are so important to us.

Flowers are the reproductive organs of plants. All, or nearly all plants need to be fertilised, i.e. they must have pollen moved from the anther in the flower (usually of another plant) to their stigma in their own flower. It must of course be pollen from the same type of plant. Very few plants can self-fertilise.

All the crops that we know today, like fruit, and seed crops, need to be fertilised. Bees also pollinate clover and grass on which many other forms of food production depend. This can occur naturally in several ways but by far the most common and effective one is by the intervention of insects. And, by far the most active insect in this area is the Honey Bee.

If it were not for the honeybee, our agricultural endeavours today would not be anywhere near as productive as they are. If there was no insect to perform this function, honeybee or other, it is very likely that the evolution of plant life would have slowed to a crawl or might even have evolved in a different direction altogether.

Einstein is quoted as saying, "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the earth, man would only have four years of life left." Assuming that this statement is true, beekeepers have become our saviours. This is because the wild honeybees have been all but wiped out in recent years by varroa mites and a few other organisms that seem to have sprung up so suddenly that the bees have not had a chance to develop a defence against them. The most common being Foulbrood, Tracheal Mites, Chalkbrood, Nosema.

Beekeepers and breeders are developing new strains of bees that are resistant to these infections and in the interim are maintaining the colonies of "domestic" honeybees so that honeybee extinction and ours are unlikely just yet.

However, the greatest threat to the survival of the honeybee in the future is likely to be from insecticides. I do not propose to discuss this here it is a subject for a much larger forum than this. Suffice it to say that great care should be taken when using any chemicals.

The domestic colonies are transported to the orchards and fields of crops to fertilise them. The beekeeper benefits by improving his harvest of honey and the farmer gets his crops fertilised. The farmer comes out of this deal best so the beekeeper usually charges for the service. I think you will agree that it is only right that he should.

Now after all that do you not think that life would be a little bit different if it was it not for the bees and beekeepers.

About the Author
Gerry is webmaster at Beehaviour.Com your source of beekeeping information.

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