Monday, May 20th 2019 is World Bee Day. Given the importance of this tiny creature to the health, wellbeing and, in fact, the continuation of the human race and many other of the planet’s species, it should probably be a public holiday!
You will probably more than once have seen her fluttering about the bushes, in a deserted corner of your garden, without realising that you were carelessly watching the venerable ancestor to whom we probably owe most of our flowers and fruits (for it is actually estimated that more than a hundred thousand varieties of plants would disappear if the bees did not visit them), and possibly even our civilisation, for in these mysteries all things intertwine, (Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee, 1905).
Maeterlinck was right, as we are now learning - and hopefully before it is too late.
Bees, of course, are pollinators and pollinators are essential for successful crops, from fruit and veg to grains and seeds and even coffee and tea. So bees along with other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are vital to our own existence. In fact, an incredible 84% of all crops grown for human consumption today rely on pollinators while a massive two thirds of the entire food production of the world depends solely on bees. In other words, we have bees to thank for two out of three mouthfuls of food we eat!
We are as dependent on bee survival as on clean air and water.
And yet human activities such as the use of pesticides in farming and the garden, land-use change and the introduction of invasive species has put them under constant threat. We are now facing the spectre of species loss, (plant species as well as bees), the end of honey, wax and propolis and, more alarming still for human society, overall food loss.