Have you ever been outside, minding your own business, and found a bee buzzing toward you, seemingly waiting to sting you and cause anything from localized distress to anaphylactic shock? I’m sure many of us have. However, these creatures keep many industries afloat and our quality of life high, due to increased diet variability produced by the non-staple crops that are almost entirely dependent on bees’ pollination.
Plants need to be pollinated in order to produce fruits and nuts. Animals are significant vectors for pollination, although bees do not pollinate staple crops. However, demand for berries, some fruits, almonds, coffee and chocolate-all animal-pollinated crops heavily dependent on bees-has significantly increased throughout the world, and production of these has shifted to third world countries whose increasing need for arable land fuels habitat destruction for these essential pollinators. Furthermore, bee-pollinated products generate over 50 billion dollars in business each year. Imagine the potential impact on countries, such as Costa Rica, that depend on animal-pollinated cash crops to survive. Poverty in agricultural regions that specialize in non-staple common food items would skyrocket. In addition, workers’ productivity would suffer in the first world due to coffee shortages.
Overall, if the entire population of bees died instantly, most of the worlds’ calories would not disappear, but the variety of these calories would be diminished significantly. Bees do face many threats, such as a lack of safe nesting areas, diseases and side effects of consumption of corn pollen from poorly tested modified crops. We can safeguard bees by building shelters for them and pressuring our representatives to pass laws that mandate thorough bee friendliness testing of genetically modified crops. Bees are important to society because they help produce many crops that we enjoy daily, and without them our food diversity would suffer and worldwide poverty levels would increase.