May 20 is celebrated world bee day, these small striped insects which, by the sound they emit, warn us of their proximity so that we have time to avoid them. However, they are essential protagonists not only for making honey, but as essential pollinators in maintaining the environment and plant production.
Eduardo Galante, professor of zoology at the University of Alicante, director of the Biodiversity Museum and president of the Spanish Association of Entomology, explained to EFE that Bee Day is associated with the honeybee, but specifies that “we forget the existence of the wild bee and that it also has a fundamental role in pollination and maintenance of the environment”.
Among the factors that impact flying insects, such as the case of bees, experts highlight “habitat fragmentation, climate change, pesticides and light pollution”, those that can lead to the extinction of up to 40% of flying species and that includes bees, ants and butterflies, according to experts. The best way to collaborate with these insects, according to scientists, is Plan spaces in the gardens without pesticides, with grass a little higher and with wild flowers so that the insects can have a “sanctuary” in each house.
Scientists have also pointed out that declining populations of flying insects can have economic repercussionsespecially in rural areas that depend on agriculture and fruit growing, since they are pollinating groups that collaborate in the development of these vegetations. Without them, apples or pears, to name a few fruits, would be affected in their growth, become less productive and could end up collapsing.
Among bees, there are more than 17,000 species in the world. In America they are of the species called melipone bee. It is a stingless bee that the Maya peoples have cultivated for centuries and is considered “the sacred Mayan bee” for the healing properties of its honey. The inhabitants of the region, in pre-Hispanic times, held ceremonies in her honor throughout the year, as she was revered for the healing effects of her honey on wounds and illnesses.
The Melipona bee is distributed from Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela and all the neotropical region, “It produces a wild honey, especially from the flowers of the tropical forest, very tasty, but unfortunately little exported”, explains Galante.
Currently, between 40 and 50% of the world’s insects are threatened or rapidly disappearing. “One could say – says the professor – that so far there has been a silent disappearance because she did not attract attention and the administrations have not taken action, as they have done with other larger organizations such as the large vertebrates.
“Climate change affects all species of insects, especially less-flying and non-flying species, because insects have temperature and humidity ranges in which they thrive. Raising the temperature by one degree may mean that some cannot grow.
In this situation, the insects respond by moving further north or to higher ground, but it can be done by flying insects and Not all organisms react to temperature changes in the same way. With the increase in temperature it is possible that flowering be a fortnight or a month early and, as the bee did not react in the same way, when it flies and is an adult, we see that the flowers it has visited have already faded.
But, Galante added other problems the bee suffers from, such as “soil modification, environmental alteration, fragmentation or removal of wild vegetation. We can see how in the ditches of the roads, the edges of the roads or in the roundabouts of our cities the vegetation is eliminated because there is a conception of aesthetics which, in certain cases, clashes with what nature is”.
“What we do is eliminating the refuges of insects, altering the environment, occupying them with urbanizations and buildings and, if we add to this the large quantity of insecticides that we have accumulated over the years in the fields, we have the main causes that have affected insect populations,” Galante assured.
But, “wild plant fruit production depends on wild bees, so, the future survival of plant diversity depends on the existence of effective pollinators that can enable the life cycle of the plant, as well as crops”said the zoologist.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), More than 70% of agricultural production is due to pollinators, among which honey and wild bees are the protagonists, and the global value of what they produce is close to half a billion dollars per year.
According to the Spanish entomologist, “producers are increasingly aware, they facilitate the existence of pollinators and are looking for biological control to avoid agrochemicals in the fields because in this way we preserve our health and that of the environment”.
Internationally, “organic farming is making a comeback. rediscover the idea of a culture based on nature, on the knowledge of insect biology, on the maintenance of refuges, resources, etc., because it will benefit the farmer and it will avoid economic expenditure”.
The honeybee problem is related to diseases caused by transhumance, because of They take them from one place to another to enjoy the blooms in different areas, where they can come into contact with bees from another origin who have diseases. “This is — according to Galante — one of the serious problems affecting the honey bee. When we find orange blossom or rosemary honey, it is because we have brought the hives to where this flower is predominant”.