Bees rely on nectar and pollen they get from plants to feed their colony. Without these sources of food for the bee colonies, the colony will be at threat of dying off.
Often attributed to mass-urbanization with the combination of off-seasons of flowering plants, the bee colony has become threatened. But it seems that hemp has turned out to be of great assistance to the bee colonies all throughout the year! Researchers have found that although containing no nectar, hemp contains pollen that can be a source of food and overall sustenance for the bees. Hemp flourishes during the off-seasons of flowering plants, so they can offer food that the bees may not have otherwise.
This is a substantial benefit for bee colonies, and in turn, the overall ecosystem on earth. But why are bees so important?
The Importance of Bees to the Ecosystem
It’s interesting to really look at the importance of bees to the ecosystems, as they are helpful to plants, animals, and humans alike..
Here are some critical roles the bee plays in the ecosystem…
- Bees are the primary pollinators in the world, and they are responsible for the life of one third of all plants in the world. Being a significant pollinator, they have a massive impact on the ecosystem of the globe.
- They help in the cross-pollination of nuts and other wild plants. These varieties of plants and nuts are a source of food for a great number of wild animal species
- The Bees produces honey, which serves as food for humans and animals like birds, raccoons, and insects. The honey is very nutritious and has several health benefits for humans – aside from simply being a source of food.
- Bees play a considerable part in the biodiversity of the ecosystem.
- By pollinating many plants, they are responsible for the emission of oxygen and other useful elements in the atmosphere.
Simply based on what we know about bees, we can really start to see the important role they have in our ecosystem. They have widespread significance to humans, animals, plants, and climate change. Due to this (and their cute, mainly-harmless nature), preserving the existence of bee colonies is essential for our ecosystem to thrive!
The Danger Faced by Bee Colonies Today
Bee colonies have been in decline at an alarming rate, largely due to the impact humans have had on the environment. Scientific surveys have shown that bee colonies have declined by 16% globally, which poses a massive threat to our ecosystem – and life as we know it.
There are various factors responsible for the decline in bee colonies, some of these factors include;
With a growing number of the population choosing to live in major cities, and fewer people opting to remain rural, we have experienced an enormous drop in agricultural activities globally. Which leaves less food for bees to feed on and continue with their mutual existence with nature.
Another effect of urbanization is the land-use effect. With less land being made available for farming due to residential and commercial developments.
Less pollen and nectar available to feed the colonies due to the effects of urbanization, which is part of the reason the existence of bees have become threatened.
- The use of pesticides
With a growing population comes an increased demand for food, which in turn translates to an increase in pesticides used globally. These pesticides are having an adverse effect on the nervous system of our precious bees, which is a major contributor to their declining population.
It’s about time we start questioning if pesticides that are toxic to bees should be banned to preserve the natural balance of our ecosystem. Awareness and educational campaigns should be used to help educate the advocates of such pesticides about the true environmental risks of their use.
- The threat of Varroa Mite Infection
Bee colonies face another huge threat from Varroa mites, which has been a major cause of bee colonies in North America declining.
Varroa mites are very active and can wipe out an entire colony in two to three years. They stick to the bee, and when deposited in the colony, they can suck the blood of bees, ultimately spreading infection throughout the colony. Fortunately, Australia is the last continent on earth where bees do not run the risk of transmitting this bug. However, they are still a large threat everywhere else on earth.
How can hemp help?
Hemp plants do not contain nectar, but the bees can feed on hemp pollen. Bees will look to feed on this pollen when there is a lack of food from other flowering plants in the area, thus, providing a greatly needed food source. The increase in the cultivation of hemp plants will be beneficial to the bee colonies.
To top it off, hemp is an extremely useful plant used in the manufacturing of everything from paper to plastics and beyond. Hemp is now legal in Australia under strict licence, and the 2017 legalisation of human consumption of hemp seed has finally encouraged the cultivation of this plant on a commercial scale!
The importance of bees to the ecosystem – and our survival – is often underappreciated. With the population in jeopardy, there is currently a dire need to create more awareness and encourage people to carry out activities that will help reverse the damage, and ultimately save the bees.
Now, there’s a whole other reason we should be growing hemp… Because it can help our bees!