As “supply chains” becomes a word we are all-too-familiar with, given the state of international commerce, we should remind ourselves of the complexity that surrounds us in the natural world. Interconnected systems of animals and plants end and begin in tandem, effortlessly.
When a tree falls along a forest path, it becomes more than just an obstacle for bikes. It becomes a vector for mycelium growth, a pathway for creatures, food for insects, increased light opportunities for nearby plants, soil nutrition through decay, a carbon source, among innumerable other properties. Systems interconnect in visible and invisible ways, and just like a tipped tree, they’re a lot harder to put back up once they’ve fallen.
Everything we gain through examining and cherishing natural cycles is only valuable so long as we recognize how we can destroy these systems when we act carelessly.
We know that bees are necessary for pollination, but what else are they responsible for in our natural ecosystem? What sort of effects do dwindling bee populations have on our agricultural output and sustainability? We’ll touch on a few of the unique traits of bees today and why they are essential for the high-quality plant ingredients we use every day.
Bees hunt flowers for nectar and carry pollen between neighboring flowers in something called pollination. While many of the crops we plant today for food are not spread through pollination, up to 90% of wild plants are—this environmental need makes bees indispensable when it comes to sustaining natural systems.
They’re not called worker bees for nothing. A 2016 figure puts the total value of bee pollination at $566 billion annually.
There still exists much in pollination that we cannot quantify, yet it impacts every piece of our lives. The figures above show how our food is influenced by bees as pollinators. But can’t account for the ways that bees have kept alive unique biomes or served as carriers for crossbreeding. The simple fact is that biodiversity would be ravaged without the help of bees as pollinators.
Bees As a Food Source
Beyond providing for us through pollination, bees also provide nourishment for their environment.
Other insects like praying mantis, dragonflies, and spiders will eat bees as a cornerstone of their diet. The same goes for birds, raccoons, and other small mammals. If you’ve ever had a dog go chasing down a “spicy fly” on the back deck, you know how irresistible these flying snacks are to animals.
Combine with this the fact that many animals will break into nests for honey and larvae, and you can see how a dwindling bee population can disrupt food chains that may seem entirely unrelated at first.
How can we stop the depletion of bee populations?
The first solution is to change our purchasing habits. Unethical growers who spray chemicals needlessly contribute significant amounts of pollution that harm natural bee populations.
Secondly, curtailing emissions and addressing climate change will stop plants from germinating early and dying off before the bees have completed their yearly life cycle.
Thirdly, you can place bee-friendly plants in your gardens that will help supplement the local population. Bees travel upwards of 8 miles from their home in search of food. So your garden may quickly become a pit stop on the way.
Above all, living consciously and ethically means increased awareness of these systems and how you impact natural populations every day. Ethical Inc. is proud to be your hub for ethically-minded information, discussion, and of course, all-natural supplementation.
Please feel free to explore our site, or email us with any questions you have. (Or topics you want to see explored.)