Bees and Biodiversity are Intrinsically Entwined
By Sabiha Malik
Founder of The World Bee Project CIC
Picture this: a world without the vibrant hues of blooming flowers, succulent micro-nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, and clean air. It's a world that would leave us yearning for nature's bountiful gifts. Yet this seemingly dystopian scenario is not far-fetched, for honeybees and wild bees, the most significant pollinators of our planet, are under threat.
Bees, those tiny marvels buzzing around in our gardens, are not mere creatures of fascination. They are guardians of biodiversity essential to our very survival. These remarkable insects diligently transfer pollen from flower to flower enabling plants to reproduce and produce the fruits and vegetables we rely upon for sustenance. But their importance extends far beyond the honey on our tables.
Our guardians of biodiversity are in decline.
Bees require minimal attention and are a reminder of nature's remarkable resilience and industriousness. Throughout history, bees have been revered in the sacred texts of major religions and recognised for their profound significance in shaping human societies. Their remarkable contributions go beyond delectable honey, royal jelly, and pollen. Beeswax propolis and even honey bee venom are outstanding gifts they bestow upon us. And let's remember the vital role they play in rural livelihoods offering a crucial source of income for countless beekeepers worldwide.
Alas, these incredible creatures are facing a dire predicament. Human activities such as habitat destruction, intensive farming practices, and the excessive use of pesticides have triggered a global decline in bee populations.
Butterflies, bats, and hummingbirds, among other pollinators, face similar threats. The consequences of their decline are far-reaching, affecting the delicate balance of plants critical to our food supply livelihoods and the air quality we breathe.
Even air pollution has cast a dark cloud over our beloved bees. Research suggests that pollutants interact with the scent molecules released by plants impeding bees' ability to locate food efficiently. These mixed signals disrupt their foraging patterns rendering them slower and less effective at pollination. It's a sombre reminder of how our actions ripple through ecosystems affecting even the tiniest creatures.
There is hope
Nevertheless, amidst the challenges, there are glimmers of hope. Strides have been made to safeguard these tireless pollinators. The European Union, for instance, imposed a partial ban on harmful insecticides known as neonicotinoids to protect bees and preserve pollination. In addition, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference is set to finalise a post-2020 framework to reduce pesticide usage by at least two-thirds by 2030. As we approach May 20, World Bee Day, why not create a pollinator sanctuary in a flowerpot? Let’s take action to safeguard these heroes of our planet. We can plant nectar-bearing flowers in any space we find anywhere -in gardens and balconies, support local beekeepers by purchasing honey, or educate young minds on the importance of bees. Every effort counts. And if the need arises to use pesticides, let’s always opt for those that do not harm bees and spray them on windless days.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sabiha Malik founded The World Bee Project CIC in 2014 to utilise AI and novel technologies to initiate a global perspective, addressing pollinator and biodiversity decline, food insecurity, climate change and threats to human wellbeing as a single interactive, interconnected challenge confronting humanity. Sabiha believes that bees lie at the heart of the relationships that bind the natural and human worlds, and in safeguarding bees lies the means to safeguard life itself.