Honey bees might look like tiny dollars floating through your garden, but their impact is estimated at between $235 billion to $577 billion annually in just the United States alone. They do this by pollinating crops which feed herbivores and meat-eaters above them.
Bees play an integral part in both farm-grown produce as well as wild plants such as many berries and seeds, providing energy to their colonies via nectar storage in their honey stomachs.
Pollination by insects is essential to the production of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fiber (such as cotton) and hay that feed livestock. When performed effectively it increases both quality and quantity of crops produced.
Bees are among the most influential insects for plant pollination, while other insect species can also serve as effective pollinators. Butterflies, moths, flies and beetles in particular have proven themselves effective pollinators; their wings carry pollen between flowers belonging to similar species.
Bees visit numerous flowers to collect nectar and pollen for themselves and their young. While doing this, they transfer pollen between male and female parts of each plant, fertilizing its ovaries with pollen from other blooms, thus producing seeds. Bees have branched hairs on their bodies that trap and hold pollen efficiently – an advantage when visiting different flowers at various times during the day due to large population numbers; their ability to visit various flowers at various times of day combined with being efficient pollinators make them ideal pollinatorss; however a range of factors could interfere with bee pollination including habitat availability, climate conditions, use of chemicals used on crops as well as agricultural practices affecting pollination results in varied results in pollination rates from bee pollination efforts.
Pollinators play an essential role in the health and growth of farm-grown fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — but also wild plants like berries and seeds that require pollination to thrive. Plus, those tasty treats provide nourishment to wildlife: birds, skunks, opossums and other creatures regularly raid beehives in search of honey and larvae from beehives!
Bees have special adaptations designed to assist them in gathering nectar, including branched hairs that trap pollen grains as they travel from flower to flower and attach themselves to its legs and body before being stored away in its comb cells for future use.
Albert Einstein famously claimed that humans would only live four more years if bees vanished, however in reality such an outcome is more likely to cause severe hardship, with food shortages and famine likely. Paving meadows for shopping malls or apartments increases economic growth while bees struggle to find food sources; spraying backyard dandelions with harmful weed killers such as glyphosate can cut their food sources too despite claims it’s harmless to them.
Bees start their food chain at plants that provide pollen and nectar, which they feed upon to obtain proteins, lipids and sugars necessary for survival. Bees then store their resources within their hives for safekeeping from predators or harsh weather.
As humans continue to alter the environment, bee habitats are at risk of being destroyed or degraded. Changes such as climate change may contribute to temperature stress that leaves bees more susceptible to diseases; additionally, climate change alters blooming seasons of flowers needed by bees for pollination purposes and impacts availability of food sources for bees.
Loss of habitat has an immediate and significant effect on solitary bee health. One study demonstrated this when they found bees lacking access to sufficient floral resources experienced a drop in their fertility and body weight, pollination abilities were diminished as a result, as was pollination of crops; not to mention an increase in exposure risk from pesticides that can harm bees.
Bees don’t fall under the traditional definition of food chain; nonetheless they play an integral part of ecosystem. Many animals consume bees as prey, including blackbirds, ruby-throated hummingbirds and starlings; dragonflies and praying mantises also consume bees as sustenance.
Bees collect protein-rich pollen from flowers as another form of sustenance for themselves and their colonies, providing vital fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins essential to hive development and expansion.
Researchers are making great strides toward understanding how wild bees eat, with findings such as the crucial role potassium to sodium ratio plays in maintaining bee health and wellbeing. Their studies reveal how forage composition should be an essential component of studying bee ecology and evolution, protecting bees against various threats like nutritional deficiencies, parasitic mite infestation, disease transmission and colony collapse disorder.