Bees create the delicious honey that is a regular feature of our diet. But these busy little creatures do far more besides! As pollinating insects they make an essential contribution to our ecosystem.
The honey bee has an extremely important ecological role to play. Even the great scientist Albert Einstein is supposed to have said: “If the bees ever disappear from the Earth, we humans will have just four more years to live. No more bees means no more pollination: thus more no plants, no more animals, no more people.”
Bees also help with the emergence of new life. Almost 80% of all cultivated and wild plants are pollinated by honey bees. This pollination ensures biodiversity, good harvests and the wide variety of food available to us all each day.
What causes bee deaths?
Although the honey bee is indispensable to human life, bee numbers have nonetheless been in decline for years. The increase in bee mortality is now an important issue worldwide. There are many reasons for this phenomenon: science has yet to find a definitive answer. There is however a degree of concurrence that several factors combined may increase bee mortality.
Just like humans, bees need a varied diet, which makes them more resistant to disease. Increasing development of monocultures and a reduction in agricultural land areas has reduced the diversity of food available to bees. Healthy bee colonies can usually cope with most diseases. Varroa, a parasitic mite that lives inside hives or on the bees themselves, can greatly weaken or even destroy whole colonies. Increasing climate change can destabilise the life of bees and agricultural pesticides are also a threat. All these factors make it hard for bees to survive into the future.
In China the impact of bee deaths is so great that humans now have to artificially pollinate in their place. It is people that here swarm in the orchards instead of insects, pollinating the flowers by hand. In France radical measures have now been taken to protect the dwindling bee population: it is the first European country to ban all five pesticides that, researchers believe, kill these insects.
Should we all become beekeepers?
More and more people are taking up beekeeping and studying bees. It is “in” to be a beekeeper – but it is not necessary to become a beekeeper in order to help nature and the bees. What small steps can we take to benefit them? The best way is to make sure there are plenty of flowers in your garden or on your balcony from spring to late summer. Establishing nesting sites for wild bees also helps protect these industrious creatures.
The Vitalpina® Hotels of South Tyrol have taken the topic of bees to heart. They therefore obtain honey from local beekeepers in order to encourage the regional economy. The Vitalpina® Hotels also consciously provide new living quarters and “workspaces” in their gardens and flowerbeds for these beautiful, hardworking wonders of nature!
Find out more about the Vitalpina® nutrition concept here.
Blogger: Celina Voglreiter
Sources: www.bee-careful.com, www.bzfe.de, www.unserplanet.net