The Issues Around Bee Extinction

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years left to live”. This pertinent statement said by Albert Einstein highlights the drastic effects we would have to face if we lost bees. By year four, the world will struggle to maintain a population of 7 billion and will eventually collapse. It is of paramount importance that the bees survive as they play a pivotal part in maintaining a healthy economy and environment. If a balance was set between bees and insecticides then the bee population would be able to grow without disruption. Bees may have agonising stings but despite this, there are many advantages to support a natural bee environment. The main argument put forward supporting the need for bees is that their products can save lives in many ways. The most popular primary product produced by bees is Honey. Bee expert “ Dr Reese Halter,” says that bees provide us with an astonishing 450 million pounds of honey every single year. This being an advantage to humans as honey has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of life-threatening cancer, reduce gastrointestinal disorders like the agonising stomach ulcers, increase athletic performances and reduce the common coughs and throat irritations.

This is because raw honey is an excellent nutritional supplement rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Bee pollen and propolis (two vital substances which maintain a healthy immune system) are also found in raw honey. Furthermore, for people with allergies, bee pollen is known to relieve seasonal allergies that numerous people suffer from. In addition, unlike the pollen which precipitates allergies, bee pollen is known to rejuvenate the body, stimulate organs and enhance vitality. But can bees produce a product that will ensure our body grows and forms in the right way? Yes. Royal jelly. It is known to promote tissue growth, muscle and cell regeneration and also help heal wounds on the skin as it kills bacteria and fights off infections. Why would we want to kill an insect which is evidently very beneficial to the human race? And should we as humans have a solution to this drastic decline as it is an insect that keeps us healthy, if so what? As so many bee products help health-related issues, it highlights a clear reasoning as to why we need to save our bees. If the bees die; we die. A clear advantage to saving the bees is that they maintain the plant population which is a vital part of a humans wellbeing. Reproduction is a salient part of a plants lifestyle, and a bee ensures that this happens.

The process of reproduction is when seeds, which will eventually become plants, are made. These plants could be our favourite fruit or favourite vegetable or most likely a plant that provides us with our essential oxygen. Plants being pollinated is vital to us as they provide our necessary oxygen keeping us - and all other living organisms around us - alive. The number of plants that bees pollinate is very commonly reduced in one's mind. In fact, according to experts, 90% of the worldwide plant population relies on the pollination of bees to grow and produce. Moreover, if we were to lose the pollination carried out by bees, only crops such as corn, wheat and oats will be left for us through wind pollination: no more fruit and vegetables for us. In addition, sexual reproduction helps ensure that the entirety of the plant population does not go extinct - if they did we would die due to lack of oxygen. Primarily, if bees were not around to pollinate and reproduce crops us humans would struggle to survive as we would be deprived of food sources and oxygen from these necessary plants. Bees also ensure that we enjoy our favourite plant-grown foods by pollinating them to enhance their quality. When a crop is pollinated by a bee, it not only enhances its quality, it enhances its shelf life, it enhances its nutritional value, it enhances its flavour and it enhances its freshness, its overall goodness as a crop. If the bee vanishes from the earth we are humans would suffer - all of life's contemporary delicacies would disappear. It is a popular opinion that pollination can and should be carried out artificially through machinery.

The real question is, are there are any other natural replacements that we can offer that carry out all the same tasks as the bee does if they die out? As bees are specialists it means that they gravitate towards certain plants to ensure they are at the highest possible level of quality meaning nothing can work in the same way a bee does. In addition, natural pollination helps our plants - grow and improve - in many different ways. Therefore, if everything was done artificially, it would be far less effective as everything would be done equivalently. Due to the fact that bees are specialists at their job, farmers rely on their level of diversity to ensure that they pollinate their appointed plant to its highest possible level of quality. Without bees, our government will lose millions of pounds annually which overall effects our country. An impressive 45% of strawberry crops and 85% of apple crops in the UK depend on bees and their pollination to grow. These two plants alone took in an astounding £200 million to Britain in 2012. This is a prodigious amount of money that, realistically, the government should feel fortunate that they are receiving purely through pollination and bees. Between 1996 and 2012 the bees overall economic value has increased from £220 million to an amazing £651 million which is now the reported average annually. This is a staggering 191% increase in the small time frame of 16 years. Our bees highly benefit our planet, our ecosystem, our health, our overall economy. Who would we be without them? Additionally, agricultural products, such as meat and dairy, take in a shocking £14 billion a year as a result of natural bee pollination. As mentioned earlier, £651 million comes from crop pollination so should our politicians, who are in fact benefited by this money, do more to protect our bees? The points above prove how much of a detrimental effect it would have on the British economy if the bees were to vanish completely.

The wellbeing and lives of many other animals are dependent on the bee population as they pollinate their necessary foods. As it has already been mentioned, bees pollinate many of our favourite plant-grown foods that keep us healthy. Well, bees also care for other animals as they pollinate their food to. This makes the bee a protector of our species as food is significant in keeping animals fit and healthy. Bees protect us and our environment. Many birds and small mammals feed on seeds, fruits and berries, all of which come from plants pollinated by bees. Furthermore, many other animals, such as the bear, bats, raccoons, possums, skunks and many more tiny insects, are known to take full advantage to a newly broken hive. As so many plants are pollinated by bees, it demonstrates the unimaginable amount of living organisms bees really protect and care for. For someone to say it's “only a bee” is very misjudging towards a species that is ultimately keeping us - and other animals who have their own importance within the community - alive and healthy.

Clearly, this demonstrates that bees have a great responsibility when it comes to preserving the ecosystem and being a protector of the food chain, overall serving a lifeline to all living organisms around the world. Bees help us in ways that most people do not appreciate or realise with crops, health and natural essential products. As insecticides are the main cause of bee decline, a balance should be set to allow the bee population to increase. The question is, in what form should this balance take? Politicians are so concerned that they have set strategies to deal with the bee decline. These pollination strategies have been delivered to ensure that the advantages to bee existence remains, but will Scotlands pollination strategy really be the answer to the decline in the population of bees? Fundamentally, if bees continue to die out, we as a population will struggle to exist.

11 February 2020
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