Plight of the Honey Bee

Scoop Independent News  By Dan Tefern - 11/29/12    Posted 12/4/12

Bees are the guarantors of life on Earth.

Since times immemorial bees have been the greatest indicator of overall environmental quality and general well-being on planet Earth. Honey bees are one of the most unique animals roaming our planet, having evolved 35 million years ago from wasps; they possess the most precise navigational ability of any animal known on Earth! They are literally electro-magnetised and orientate themselves according to the magnetic poles of the earth (a process known as 'magnetic remanence').

No other animal on Earth has this unique sense of orientation. Furthermore, bees are one of the only animals (together with sharks and electric eels) that have the ability to exploit the electrical properties of nature during their day-to-day activities. When feeding on nectar, a bee will build up an electrostatic charge whilst flapping its wings against its coat (200 times per second,) which in turn causes the pollen from a flower to stick to their coat due to the charge differential.

The Significance of Honey Bees

Why are bees so important to humans and life on Earth as we know it?

Contrary to animal reproduction, plants need to be pollinated. Some plants can pollinate themselves (known as self-pollination) but most require the presence of certain mediators to disperse their pollen from one plant to another. These mediators appear in the form of animals, insects and the wind (cross-pollination). Honey bees pollinate between 80 and 90 percent of all flowering crops, constituting one third of everything human beings eat on this Earth. Without honey bees, humans can say goodbye to cucumbers, apples, strawberries, nuts, broccoli, asparagus, blueberries and alfalfa- to name but a few species. Their disappearance would threaten the entire beef and dairy industries (as a knock-on effect from alfalfa disappearing - as it is requisite in their feed). In the US alone, it has been estimated that honeybees pollinate approximately $14 billion worth of seeds and crops, every year.

If honeybees were to disappear completely, they would...