They may not seem big in size, but pollinators like bees make a big impact on our environment! Bees are vital to life on earth. They pollinate crops that produce the foods we eat (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils). Without bees, we would face food shortages, a decline in our economy, and our entire ecosystem could suffer. Bees are facing extinction, and you can help.
It’s estimated that 40% of the world’s invertebrate pollinators (which includes bees and butterflies) are facing extinction. Since they play such an important role in food production and the economy, it’s no wonder the decline in bee population is a major concern around the world. We need to understand the threats to this important insect so we can help protect them.
Little eco giants
Pollinators fertilize plants as they move from flower to flower which allows the plants to reproduce (creating the fruits, nuts and vegetables we eat). It’s estimated that 35% of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators for reproduction, which represents 90% of the food supplies in 146 countries globally. The price tag of global crops that depend on pollinators is pegged at $235 and $577 billion US a year.
If bee populations continue to decline, food prices will increase and in some cases the viability of crops could be a risk. Without bees, trees will stop producing fruit and crops such as the almond crop could face extinction.
Protecting pollinators is an important step in securing the food supply, maintaining biodiversity and preserving our ecosystem.
The winter months can be tough for many species, and bees are no exception. The number of hives that don’t survive the winter is estimated at an astonishing 23.1%, but ABC recently reported a 40% decline in bee population in the US.
Winter loss of bee populations, and a phenomenon called “Colony Collapse Disorder” (unexplained losses of adult worker bees) put our bees at risk. Threats to bees are well documented and can be mitigated including degradation of habitat, climate change and the use of fungicides, insecticides and herbicides.
Bee facts you can share at the water cooler
- Each hive has 40,000-60,000 bees.
- Three types of bees exist in every hive: Queen, Worker and Drone.
- Bees travel 2-3 miles per flight to collect pollen and nectar from local plants.
- 300 bees work together for three weeks to gather 450g of honey.
- Bees are docile and avoid stinging unless threatened. Only worker bees sting. Worker bees die after stinging someone.
- Honey bees use a special bee dance and chemical scents called pheromones to communicate.
How TPH welcomes bees – and you can too!
TPH’s roof is currently home to 8 hives – over 300,000 bees! Toronto Bee Rescue works with landowners and corporations to find homes for the bee populations they rescue. The colonies are relocated to areas where they won’t adversely impact people or their surroundings. Your office can do the same!
Beyond our roofs, urban beekeeping continues to gain steam in cities around the world in response to the drastic worldwide drops in honeybee populations and honey yields.
If you can’t provide a home to the bees, consider raising donations. TPH also supports bee colonies with our Charitable Office! We selected the University of Guelph’s Buckfast Breeding Program for our corporation donation program. Buckfast Bees are a strain of honeybees that are more resistant to the parasites that lead to colony collapse. They’re also known known to be less aggressive, and high honey producers. Consider donating to the bees!
Take action: plant native seeds
Bees rely on native seeds for survival. Native plants help form the ecological basis for all life and form the building blocks for biodiversity. As a part of our Earth Day efforts, we sent out native seeds to our customer base. Find out more about the benefits of native seeds in part one of this series.
The next time you see a bee buzzing around the flowers in your native garden, don’t fret. They’re critical to our ecosystem and a friend to the environment!