BEES ARE THE MAIN INSECTS OF THE ECOSYSTEM
May 20 is commemorated as World Bee Day due to its importance. Bees can be found on every continent, that is, in every habitat of the planet where there are flowering plants except in Antarctica. There are approximately over 16,000 species of bees identified in seven recognized biological families. Generally, bees are insects that are feared by most people because of their very painful stings.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEES
What is the use or function of bees for humans? For centuries, bees have benefited humans, plants and the environment. Like other insects, the primary function or ecosystem service provided by bees is pollination. Bees are very important in ecosystems, as many plant species require these insects to reproduce. Like plants, humans need bees to do pollination in aid of food production. Pollination is the process of transferring pollen from the anther to the stigma. This process is important to ensure the success of tree fertilization and subsequently for the survival of plant species.
Through this process it is estimated that 60 percent of the fruits and vegetables currently available can be produced. The fact is, as much as 50-90 percent of the human diet is based on plants, if insects like bees do not carry out this pollination function in the ecosystem, then all vegetables, fruits including rice and bread will no longer be in the human daily menu. Therefore, if we lose all insects including bees, all humans on this planet earth will be hit by starvation, as 85 percent of all plants on earth reproduce through the process of pollination, for example tomatoes and apples. Past studies have also proven that bees and beetles are the main pollinating agents for ginger trees. A study by Takano et al. (2005) showed that bees known as Carpenter bees are the main pollinating agents for the Alpinia nieuwenhuizii ginger species i.e. Borneo ginger.
Bees are also the largest pollinating agents for cotton which is important in the textile industry. Without bees, the 420 billion cotton industry would decline and disappear. Oil grains such as canola and sunflower produce vegetable oils that are only obtained through pollination by bees. This oil grain is also a major source of protein for livestock such as cattle which helps these livestock grow well and healthy and then supply a lot of meat to humans. Thus, the understanding of the importance of insects as pollinating agents proves that bees are among the frontliners of pollinating agents.
Kelulut honey produced by bees is a popular local product that can generate a lucrative income nowadays. The production of bee honey is also a source of food and other products such as wax and propolis toothpaste. The impact of the high demand in the local market, it is also exported to the international market and indirectly it injects a positive impact on the national economy in line with the sales of the product.
The fact is, bees have a unique role in ecosystems namely in bio-diversity and environmental balance. If we kill these insects arbitrarily, our ecosystem will become unbalanced and eventually affect the survival of other animals and plants. Thus, many scientists call bees the most valuable species in the world, surpassing plankton, fungi and bats. So, we should always be grateful to this front line that has never failed to color our lives indirectly.
Unfortunately in recent years, experts have become increasingly concerned about the problems plaguing insect populations such as bees due to the stresses of human activities. Unknowingly and slowly, we may contribute directly or indirectly to the extinction of bees which gives us so much importance. These include industrial activities, agriculture and the extreme use of pesticides, pollution and climate change. So, we should try to improve how we interact with nature, to make sure we don’t damage it excessively. May each of us learn from the mistakes that have occurred, and strive to improve how we manage our daily activities to prevent further destruction, especially involving beekeeping that we still lack understanding about.
By: Prof. Prof. Dr. Haliza Abdul Rahman, Head of Laboratory, Youth Laboratory in Leadership, Politics & Citizenship, Social Science Studies Institute (IPSAS), UPM
Date of Input: 12/07/2022 | Updated: 12/07/2022 | nooryati
Universiti Putra Malaysia
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