Our world consists of a number of living things; these living things belong to different species or groups. Some are mammals, some belong to the insect category, others are reptiles whereas, some fall in the fish group. These animals have also been divided into two categories; vertebrates and non-vertebrates. No matter what the basis of classification, every specie, animal or insect, contributes something to the ecosystem and adds value to it. There are a number of ways nature has adopted for this purpose. The animals, insects, mammals and reptiles that have been created, prove to be beneficial for the ecosystem in one way or another. One of the most prominent ones among them are the Honey bees.
Honey bees have proven to be beneficial for our planet for a long time. Apart from being fruitful and giving a number of benefits to humans, they also prove to be constructive for nature in a holistic sense. A number of documentaries have been made to highlight the importance of this hardworking insect for humans as well as nature. One such documentary that has grabbed much attention is “More than Honey”. It is an amazing documentary by a Swiss filmmaker, Marcus Imhoof. The writer-cum-director has looked into the fascinating world of honeybees from a critical perspective. The documentary focuses on the relationship between humans and honeybees in a very observing and close manner.
The documentary has received much appreciation and praise from the audience as well as the critics. Einstein said, “Remove the bee from the earth and at the same stroke you remove at least one hundred thousand plants that will not survive.” The image is trying to emphasize the importance of bees not only to the ecosystem but also to humans and our economies. We often take bees for granted, not knowing how these social insects impact many of our daily lives. By number, the majority of domesticated beehives in the US are migratory. That is, they are trucked around the country at various times during the year to pollinate crops. When we see studies on beehive populations, I believe mostly, they are about domesticated bees (It's too hard to count wild beehives).Since most beehives are migratory, it means most of the hive losses are also in migratory bee hives. The existence of migratory beekeeping has become necessary because of large-scale monoculture that goes on (Imhoof). Almonds are one crop that requires bees for pollination. In an area where there are only almonds for 10 miles in every direction and since almonds only flower for a few weeks each year, bees can't be productive without mutual cooperation.
Although migratory beekeepers do their best to minimize the stresses on their bees, being locked in their hives for days while they are trucked around to new locations and getting sprayed with pesticides while they are pollinating is hard on the bees. The documentary “More Than Honey” does a good job of making this case (Imhoof). As a result, to keep the bees alive under these stressful conditions, the bees are given medications, treatments, food, etc. The thought is that in the short term, these treatments keep the bees alive, but in the long term, they facilitate the breeding of bees that are more resistant to pests.Recent other stresses in the environment like the introduction of neonicotinoids are likely compounding the problem. Eventually, the colonies have started to collapse.
There are about 20,000 bee species worldwide and over 1500 bee species in California. Bees do most of the pollination on earth, but not all. Perhaps 200,000 species of flowering plants depend on part on bee pollination. If you see a pretty, sweet-smelling blue or yellow-flowered plant, it probably depends on bee pollination. If all bees were gone, almost all of these flowering plants would go extinct (Oldroyd). We’d still have grasses and most nontropical trees, but the world would be less colorful, and of course, all the animals and fungi that depend on these flowering plants would also be in difficult straits.
Now if honeybees were extinct, it would cause some temporary disruptions, especially in human agroecosystems, but there are a lot of alternative bees: bumblebees, sweat bees, Carpenter bees, stingless bees, etc (Brodschneider). The world would go back to normal pretty quickly, except for our honeybee-pollinated crops such as almonds. It would take a little time and some adjustments to our land management to restore native bee populations to do the job. They ably pollinating about seventy percent of major crops on which we depend.
The honey bees play this very beautifully i.e. worth $30 billion of some crop yields per annum. These are crucial elements of our environment. There is immense possibility of losing these crop species which are by pollinated by bees, Some of the famous crops that are pollinated with the help of bees are Okra, Kiwifruit, Potato, Onion, Cashew, Celery, Strawberry, Mustard, Rapeseed, Broccoli Grape, Brassica, Tomato, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels, Turnip, Jack bean and Horse Bean, etc. Moreover, the documentary also states that some of the other crops like Red Chilli, Green Pepper, Chilli Pepper, Bell Pepper, Papaya, Sword Bean, Chestnut and many others are also benefitted by the activities of bees. There are some other crops and types of plants that only grow with help from this honey producing insect for example Pear, Pomegranate, Fennel, Kidney Bean, Apricot, Rosehips, Cow pea, Black Eyed Pea, etc. The animals which feed on the above species will be adversely affected. It would be a great struggle to sustain our population without bees.
Brodschneider, Robert, and Karl Crailsheim. "Nutrition and health in honey bees." Apidologie 41.3 (2010): 278-294.
Imhoof, M., & Lieckfeld, C. P. (2015). More Than Honey: The Survival of Bees and the Future of Our World. Greystone Books Ltd.
Imhoof, Markus. More Than Honey. Kino Lorber, 2013.
Oldroyd, Benjamin P. "What's killing American honey bees?" PLoS biology 5.6 (2007): e168.
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