Updated: Aug 31
We need bees. We may take them and other pollinators for granted - but they are vital for a stable, healthy environment.
The vast majority of plants we need for food rely on pollination by bees. They visit more than 90% of global crop types. Bees also pollinate around 80% of wildflowers in Europe, making them integral to a healthy ecosystem. In spite of this, the bees are in trouble.
There is growing public and political concern at bee decline across the world. This decline is caused by a combination of stresses - from loss of their habitat and food sources to the effects of climate change. More than ever before, we need to recognise the importance of bees to nature and to our lives. And we need to turn that into action to ensure they not only survive, but thrive!
Did you know? Our Favourite Bee Facts
Pollination is a very important part of the lifecycle of a plant! Insects carry pollen between flowering plants of the same type. The pollen fertilizes egg cells to make seeds so new plants can grow!
So, when you see a bee on a flower, that is what they are doing. They drink the nectar, brush up against the pollen and fly to another flower, pollinating the plant.
Without bumblebee pollination we wouldn’t have peppers, tomatoes and strawberries (to name a few) and they are the only pollinator of potatoes.
Bees have compound eyes made up of several visual units. They see in the UV spectrum! If you and I see a red flower, we just see a red flower with a yellow centre. When a bee sees the flower, it looks like a lit up fairground or a lit up runway, this encourages the bee to go towards the flower and pollinate it!
Fun Fact: There are 267 species of Bee in the UK.
Jobs in the Hive
Bee hives are like cities; they contain a lot of houses and a lot of bees! A honeybees hive contains 50,000 bees, while Bumble bees have 400.
This bee is the queen; she is generally a lot bigger than the other bees. She has a really important job, stays in the hive all day, and lays eggs.
The other bees that live in the hive are workers; they are all female and do almost all the work. They have lots of jobs like building the hive, keeping the hive clean and their main job – look for food! Males leave and find a new queen.
The workers have many roles which are determined by their age - we have the builder, temperature controller, cleaner, guard, undertaker and forager (find out more).
(Not So) Fun Fact: Many bee species are threatened by pollution, climate change and pesticides. Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats - we've lost 97% of wildflower meadows in the UK since the 1930s because of how we use land for farming and building.