Most people are probably aware that honeybees make honey, but you may not know what else they do to keep the world moving. Believe it or not, it takes more than sun, soil, and water to keep the earth green and our crops thriving. Pollination plays a massive role in environmental health and economic stability, and honeybees are one of the top pollinators worldwide. Understanding how honeybees help the global economy and ecosystem is the first step to supporting their dwindling population.
The Importance of Pollinators
Although there are many more pollinators than just honeybees, they’re one of the most important in the world. You may not think insects are such a big deal, but they’re responsible for most of the food you eat and the clothes you wear. Believe it or not, pollinators are imperative when it comes to food security—especially in the United States. About 90 percent of the crops in the world rely on animal and insect pollinators to grow.
With that in mind, farmers and other agricultural workers depend on pollinators for their livelihood. Almost all the food you see in the grocery store comes from pollination at one point or another; as a result, humans and other animals rely on pollinators like honeybees to survive.
Different Types of Pollinators
As previously mentioned, the pool of pollinators is more than just honeybees, but you may not know about the others. Follow along to learn more about the different types of pollinators, what they do, and why they should be important to you.
Honeybees are obviously the most known and imperative pollinators, and they’re responsible for pollinating crops such as apples, almonds, melons, blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, cherries, and more. You may not think you need bees to keep your remaining diet, but it would surprise you how many items use bee-pollinated crops.
Hummingbirds are the most popular bird pollinators because they forage for nectar, just like bees. However, pollination by birds is most common in warm, tropical climates, and they’re responsible for pollinating nutmeg, bananas, and papayas.
Many people probably don’t realize that bats are beneficial to society, but they actually pollinate a few interesting crops. Believe it or not, bats are responsible for several tropical fruits, including mangoes, agave, bananas, guavas, cocoa, and eucalyptus. Rather than being afraid of bats, we should celebrate them instead.
Butterflies are arguably the most beautiful pollinators, and they come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Interestingly, butterflies help pollinate the same plants they’re attracted to. Butterflies pollinate flowering plants, but they’re also responsible for several vegetables and herbs like cilantro, dill, lettuce, artichokes, and celery.
Beetles are another unexpected pollinator. They’re in charge of pollinating things like carrots, cabbage, sunflowers, magnolias, and spice plants. Most people are quick to kill beetles, but their population is highly important to humans and other animals.
What Happens Without Them?
As you can see, our world relies heavily on the work of countless pollinators. Imagining life without them is challenging, but you should understand what would happen without honeybees and other pollinators. Take a look at what to expect if their populations continue to decline.
Less Beef and Dairy Products
Because most of the food cows rely on for food is pollinated by bees, we would experience beef and dairy product shortages all over the world. Obviously, steak and hamburgers are off the menu, but we would also have to say goodbye to ice cream, cheese, yogurt, and milk.
No More Honey
Honeybees make honey, and it would become a thing of the past if their population went extinct. Interestingly, honey and other bee products are staples in skincare, haircare, cooking, and healing minor illnesses and wounds. While there are plenty of other sweeteners to choose from, honey and other bee products are impossible to replicate without honeybees; bulk raw honey would be impossible to come by.
More Expensive Clothing
Cotton is easily the most important material when it comes to fashion and textiles. Even though not all clothing and fabric are made from cotton, many other synthetic fibers and materials use cotton in their formulations. With that in mind, things like jeans, socks, undergarments, T-shirts, and even toilet paper would be incredibly difficult to make; as a result, clothing and fabric prices would skyrocket.
Malnutrition is one of the scariest things we would face as humans. As you already know, pollinators—especially honeybees—are responsible for most of the food we eat. Because humans require countless vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to survive, we would struggle to live without pollinators. Without healthy food sources, our immune systems would be weak and unable to fight off bacteria and viruses.
Pollination by Hand
As you can probably imagine, someone would have to pick up the slack if bees and other pollinators didn’t exist. Humans can and would have to pollinate crops by hand; however, there aren’t enough people to make this work long-term. Additionally, hand-pollination would take so much time, and workers would expect payment; as a result, food prices would rise significantly.
How You Can Boost Pollinator Populations
While everyone must do their part to help pollinator populations, you should take the time to become an advocate for them. For instance, you can do some of the following things to show your support.
- Spread Awareness. Now you know more information about pollinators, but your friends, family, and local community may not. You can spread awareness by sharing this article or creating an advocacy group in your local area.
- Bee-Friendly Plants. Planting bee- and other pollinator-friendly plants on your property is an excellent way to boost their populations with little to no effort. Bees love lavender, sunflowers, rosemary, mint, and many others!
- Limit Pesticide Use. Unfortunately, pesticides and other chemicals are incredibly harmful to bees and other pollinators. Be sure to stop using any dangerous chemicals on your property and encourage those around you to do the same.
Now that you know how honeybees help the global economy and ecosystem, you should be more likely to do everything you can to support their population and advocate for their growth. Pollinator numbers are declining all over the world, but we can stand together to increase their numbers.