11 fascinating facts about bees, the most important pollinators

Mavic Conde
11 fascinating facts about bees, the most important pollinators
One-third of food produced in the world depends on pollination, and bees hold the most important role among all pollinators

MANILA, Philippines – Did you know that honeybees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops, and they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world?

Yes, these humble bees have high significance to the environment and human nutrition – not for their honey production, but for pollination. Their decline across the globe means a growing risk to the nutrition and habitat of people most dependent on bee-pollinated plants. (READ: 1.4B jobs depend on pollinators – report)

As part of the World Environment Day celebration, we’re rounding up 11 facts about these often overlooked but valuable organisms.

  1. One-third of food produced in the world depends on pollination, and bees hold the most important role among all pollinators.

  1. Pollinators can increase plant diversity, which is key to the development and preservation of the natural environment. Through pollination, they can offset the damage done to plants by herbivores and pathogens. Pollination of wild and economic plants can help mitigate climate change. It makes ecosystem recovery faster, too, after typhoons.

  1. Pollination makes it possible to have agricultural production that guarantees safe food supply, and bees, with their highly nutritious products, help contribute to better food quality. (READ: Can bees help end hidden hunger?)

  1. Bees are a good bioindicator of environmental conditions. By monitoring their development and health, we can make assessments on what’s going on in a particular environment and when an action has to be taken.

  1. Of the 12 species of honeybees, 11 are native to Asia. According to Cleofas Cervancia, president of Apimondia-Asia and head of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Bee Program, Asia’s rich vegetation and mild climate support the population of pollinators.

  1. The stingless “kiwot” bees represent a promising species for crop pollination and production of valuable products such as honey, pollen, and propolis. In the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand, the stingless bees are being used for large-scale pollination, especially for mangoes, rambutans, and lanzones. Based on pollen analysis, stingless bees visit more wild and economic plants.

  1. In many poorer countries, beekeeping is practiced in highly sustainable ways, and much can be learned from them. We need not strive for monoculture beekeeping.

  1. The rise of “natural beekeeping” resulted in the development of different kinds of hives intended to allow bees to build natural combs. In the Philippines, the UPLB Bee Program developed a modern hive that is transportable, hygienic, suitable for mass production, and promotes conservation.

  1. Backyard beekeeping involves a participatory approach that spurs economic activity in the community. One example is Balay Buhay sa Uma Bee Farm, a techno-demo farm in Sorsogon. In partnership with UPLB, it introduces and transfers science-based know-how for bee cultivation to the community. The community also benefits from livelihood training in the production of honey, pollen, and propolis.

  1. The severity of the current version of honey adulteration (impure honey) has a great impact on prices and puts at risk the sustainability of beekeeping operations around the world.

  1. The United Nations declared May 20 as World Bee Day to pay tribute to the late Anton Jansa, a well-known pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the leading experts on bees of his time. Its aims are to make people aware of the importance of bees to our survival, and to inform the public about measures that must be taken so that bees will have a better chance of surviving in the future. 

– Rappler.com

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