#WorldBeeDay: Why protecting the planet begins with saving the bees

bees - saving the planet

#WorldBeeDay: Why protecting the planet begins with saving the bees

There is a global decline of bees and evidence has shown that global warming is one of the key drivers of the decline.

Large bees and comb-building cavity nesters are declining in abundance as temperatures increase and this is because some wild bees and other pollinators have lower heat tolerance, making them more susceptible to climate change and the warming climate.

So, when temperatures rise, they are forced to head to colder climates to seek refuge, reducing the overall territory they can inhabit, and reducing population sizes. This can have ripple effects on plant pollination and several ecosystems, including humans.

For example, when specialized insect species go extinct, these populations are often replaced by generalist species that can survive in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. But as generalist species take the place of specialized insect species, the whole system becomes far more prone to sudden changes because of their inability to perform specialized functions.

The result can be an ecological cascade that threatens the integrity of the whole ecosystem. As climate change accelerates, more ecosystems will be placed under this kind of pressure, and it’s expected that populations will continue to decline.

This spells graver consequences for humans because one of every three bites of food eaten worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest.

Yes. Insects, of which bees are a part, are the world’s top pollinators and are critical to our food systems.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), bees and other pollinators affect 35% of global agricultural land, supporting the production of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide. Bees also help to pollinate the majority of the planet’s wild plants, which support healthy ecosystems.

Unfortunately, despite how critical bees are to the natural environment and human food systems, global bee populations continue to decline due to climate change and farming practices that deplete areas of plant diversity, depriving bees of key sources of food and unleashing vast amounts of harmful pesticides.

The thing is, healthy bee populations help promote biodiversity and they also require diverse and lush landscapes for food, reproduction, and nesting. So when ecosystem diversity is affected, the surrounding pollinator populations are, too.

This indicates that the decline of bees is emblematic of the broader decline of wildlife around the world.

To prevent the extinction of bees, we must promote healthy ecosystems. Plants and insects often serve as the foundation of healthy ecosystems, so when landscapes begin to regain ecosystem diversity, other creatures will also come back: birds, lizards, snakes, and frogs — which all feed on insects.

This can create a positive feedback loop that helps support pollinator populations, while also improving agricultural yields. Farmers can move in this direction by allocating a certain amount of their land to bee-friendly habitats free of pesticides and featuring various types of flowers that provide nectar and pollen year-round.

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