Many aspects of the natural world are affected by climate change.
And the world’s population of bees – including honey bees and bumblebees – is one of them.
A 2020 study from the University of Ottawa found ‘the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in a given place’ has declined by an average of over 30% over the course of one human generation, demonstrating a dramatic cause for concern for the pollinators.
There are 1,965 wild bee species in Europe, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – which in 2015 produced a report that showed 9% of them were at risk of extinction.
But bees are incredibly important to our way of life – essential, really – which is why we have World Bee Day every May 20, devoted to recognising their crucial role in our ecosystem.
So, what makes them so important? And why are they dying out?
Why are bees dying?
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why bees are dying – and humans are largely responsible for their dwindling numbers.
A variety of factors comes into play, including:
- Habitat destruction
- Nutrition deficit
- Air pollution
- Climate change.
Pesticides and habitat destruction regarded as two of the most prominent causes.
Urban development across the world and intensive farming have destroyed a number of pollinator-friendly habitats.
Bees need lots of flowers to survive and flourish, as well as areas among vegetation to nest in.
Accroding to Friends of the Earth, 97% of the planet’s vital grasslands have disappeared since the Second World War, taking the bees’ habitat along with it.
Climate change, namely warmer wetter winters, is affecting bees hibernation patterns, as well as the timing of plants flowering, which is a key food source for bees.
Toxic properties in pesticides have also contributed, namely by affecting different species’ ability to breed as well as their disease resistance.
Why are bees important?
Bees are essential to many of the world’s food crops, which is why their dwindling numbers are such a cause for concern.
A spokesperson for GardeningExpress.co.uk previously said: ‘It’s been estimated that bees pollinate around a third of everything we eat, and they play a vital role in sustaining the planet’s ecosystem.
‘They’re incredibly important for the environment and for humanity in general, so we should be doing all we can to help bees survive and thrive.’
How can we help protect bees?
There are a number of ways that you can the bees.
If you have a garden or balcony, you can turn your outdoor space into one designed with bees in mind.
Something you can do is plant single-headed flowers, which are easier for bees to access. Try and plant purple flowers too, as it is a colour that bees can identify quickly and easily.
If you’re into DIY, you can even build your own bee hotel out of bamboo, creating a bee-friendly habitat in your own back garden.
Bees also like a place to rest and refresh themselves, so why not add a bee bath as a rest stop for busy bees who pay your garden a visit?