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How bees are undervalued

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APRIL 17, 2023

We often tend to undervalue objects that are of great value to us. By underestimating such critical components of our daily life, we often take away any value they provide. With the arrival of spring, one particularly important species comes to mind — honeybees. In modern society, bees may mean something different to whomever you are talking to. For some, bees are a source of evil. Many are afraid of this little flying creature that is smaller than a quarter. Their small stinger often sends people running in the opposite direction.

However, to some people, bees are a sign of the arrival of spring. As flowers start to bloom bees emerge, transferring pollen from place to place, contributing to a crucial process that holds the biota of the natural world together. To others, bees may mean the flavor of delicious sweet honey used in tea, on a biscuit or to treat an illness. 

To me, bees are magnificent creatures that we should carefully take care of and serve to protect. Most honeybees are characterized by their oval structure and thick yellow and black bands. In the summer, their buzz travels between flowers as you watch close by. If you look up at thick stalks of trees, you may even be able to spot their hive, with a swarm of bees entering and exiting.

No matter what societal presumptions one may hold in regard to a simple honeybee, it is important to understand their value to nature as we enter spring and summer. First, bees are incredibly important to food production. The US Agriculture Industry is heavily dependent on bee pollination, as honeybees pollinate almost $15 billion worth of crops across the nation including vegetables, fruits and nuts. Honeybees also generate an income of almost $3.2 million from their honey, which is a staple in most American households.

Pollination, the action of dispersing pollen from one flower to another, is crucial for the reproduction of flowering plants. Without pollination, plants would be unable to reproduce, which is why pollinators like honeybees are so important. Around ⅓ of the food consumed by Americans was once pollinated by honeybees, such as apples, melons, broccoli and almonds. 

Without bees pollinating, it would be impossible to sustain the current human population as agriculture would begin to suffer. BBC reports that supermarkets would have around half the current amount of fruits and vegetables if numbers continue to decline.

Factors that contribute to the rapid decline of bee populations include habitat loss, pesticides, climate change and competition among other bee species to name a few. This presents an interesting situation as the foundation of agriculture is found in the transformation of natural ecosystems to cropland. This destroys pollinators’ homes, leading to their population decline even though crops are so dependent on them in the first place. 

The simple action of agriculturalization is one of the key contributing factors to the honey bee population decline, even though most of the income from agriculture is dependent on natural pollinators. It is of extreme importance that as industrialization continues to progress, natural ecosystems are conserved and rehabilitated in order for pollinators’ habitats to persevere. 

Stakeholders in agriculture must acknowledge this fundamental relationship between agriculture and land conservation. Even though it is a difficult relationship to manage as countries want to continue to develop, it is important to keep in mind the alternative effects this has on the natural world. 

A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers in one single day. If you take just one bee colony away from an area, huge changes can occur. Many are taking action in order to protect honeybee populations such as The Bee Conservancy, Pollinator Partnership, Bees for Development and Honeybee Research Institute. 

There are many ways to participate in conserving bee populations. From a simple wildlife conservation project in your hometown to getting involved in raising awareness of honeybee populations, there can be a range of ways to protect this great species. Even if the effects aren’t direct, habitat restoration work provides more areas for native species to call home which can then boost their population numbers and provide sustained habitats for decades.

With the blooming of flowers this spring, next time you see bees in the process of pollination you can now think of their great benefits to the natural world. Without honeybees, agriculture — the glue that holds our society together — may face declining productivity, which would cause detrimental global ripple effects. These tiny buzzing insects, although a fear of many, are superpowers of the natural world and their importance should not be discounted.

Contact Ashley Carter at 


APRIL 17, 2023