Why are Bees Important? (Here’s What You Need to Know!)

Bees have been around for over 80 million years, buzzing between flowers and plants to collect pollen and nectar.

They are undoubtedly well-loved insects. They are a common sight around the world and integral to human existence as they pollinate plants and crops and produce honey—the only food insects create that humans eat.

Bee populations are declining globally, which could drastically affect the balance of the natural world. We must protect bees from harming the environment, and the best way to start this journey is to understand why bees are essential.

Why are Bees so Important?

1. Bees Pollinate Our Crops

Bees are pollinators, which means alongside other animals like butterflies, birds, and bats, they help plants reproduce by passing genetic material between flowers.

This is vital not only for many natural plants and flowers but also for crops that produce the food we eat. Humans rely on bees to pollinate our food crops, and around 70 of the top 100 food crops are pollinated by bees, contributing to approximately 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Like grains, many crops are pollinated by the wind, but many crops, such as cotton, fruit trees, nuts, coffee, berries, and vegetables, rely on bees.

Without bees, the food produced would decrease as crops could not reproduce.

Farmers would be forced to pollinate manually, which is less efficient and time-consuming, and it would increase costs. It is estimated that bee pollination is worth over 14 billion dollars in the US alone, highlighting how essential bees are to human existence.

2. Bees Support Biodiversity

Bees pollinate wild plants, trees, and crops. Eighty percent of European wildflowers are estimated to depend on insect pollination to reproduce. Thus, bees are an integral part of ecosystems, creating food and shelter for other animals and playing an essential role in the growth and survival of these environments.

Bees have an essential role in supporting biodiversity. When bee populations decline, like that of the bumblebee in Europe, so do the plants depend on them, with 76% of species dropping in numbers.

3. Bees Produce Honey

Honey is a winter food source for bees, which they create in the summer when nectar is abundant. Humans have used honey’s high-calorie sweetness for its medicinal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits for thousands of years.

Humans use honey as a food source to treat injuries and prevent infections, as do other animals.

Recently, research has shown that consuming honey from local hives can help those with seasonal allergies by reducing the severity of hay fever symptoms.

The idea is that bees collect nectar from local plants and trees to create honey, which, when consumed by people, can reduce the inflammatory effects of tree and plant pollen in the summer months.

Bees produce many other substances that humans utilize, including beeswax, which humans have used for over 9,000 years for its waterproofing properties in pots.

In the modern-day, beeswax is used in eco-friendly products like natural food wraps, an alternative to plastic wrap.

4. Bees Provide an Indicator of Environmental Health

Bees and their role in pollination make them an essential part of many ecosystems. Humans and bees have worked together closely for thousands of years, providing a unique opportunity for research and knowledge into environmental pollution levels and the effects of climate change.

The health of bee populations can help us determine the health of the environment and protect other creatures, including other pollinators, from population decline.

5. Bees are a Key Part of Human Culture

Bees, with their complex social structures and innovative building methods, have inspired many engineering, cultural, and artistic ventures.

Humans have learned that the hexagon shapes in the honeybee’s hive are one of the most efficient structures, as it allows for maximum honey storage.

Humans use bee idioms in language and have heralded these creatures as symbols of community and fertility throughout our partnership.

What is Happening to Bee Populations?

Bee populations are declining at a rapid and unsustainable rate. In managed commercial hives, there has been a reduction of population numbers of 40%, and for bumblebees, this figure sits at 90%.

Beekeepers worldwide closely monitor honey bee decline. However, a decline has been recorded across all bee species in recent years, but why is this happening?


The growth of city landscapes turns natural land into concrete, tarmac, and lawns, leading to less biodiversity, fewer plants, and decreased bee populations.

Farmers are also converting wild habitats into large areas of monoculture crops, like grains, which reduces biodiversity and causes bees to die out because there is not enough varied plant life.

Pesticides and Disease

Pesticides are sprayed on crops and plants to prevent unwanted insects or creatures from feeding on them. Bees are not the target, but they end up being impacted by pesticides as they visit the plants and crops that have been sprayed.

This leads to either the bee dying immediately, becoming disorientated and unable to return to the hive, or the chemicals lingering on the bee’s body, causing it to transport the toxic substance back to the colony, where it harms the hive.

Bees can also become addicted to pesticides like neonicotinoids, which impact the efficiency of their food collection and the colony’s safety.

Pesticides can also make bees more susceptible to disease and parasites like mites. Selective breeding of honeybees has led to a decrease in genetic diversity, which makes this species particularly vulnerable to being wiped out by disease.

Climate Change

Changes in environmental conditions are affecting bees as their food sources are diminishing.

Many bees rely on specific plants for food, and climate change is happening so rapidly that neither the bees nor the plants can adapt.

Extreme weather events like heatwaves, storms, and floods are also causing the bee population to decline.

What Can We Do to Help Bees?

Adopt Organic and Natural Farming

Adopting wholly organic and natural farming techniques, or, at the very least, banning the most toxic pesticides and using only rapidly degradable chemicals, would increase bee populations.

These damaging chemicals would no longer negatively affect bees, and biodiversity in these areas would begin to increase.

Plant Bee-friendly Flowers

People living in urban environments can also help by planting bee-friendly flowers like lavender, lilac, and foxglove and providing areas for bees to shelter in outdoor areas. Wild habitats should be protected to preserve ecosystems so all species, including bees, flourish.

Increase Diversity of Bees

We should aim to reduce our focus on honey bees to increase the diversity of bees and protect native bee species. This is important to the environment and farmers, as different bee species are better at pollinating certain crops.

Help Restore Native Bees

Restoring native bee species will benefit humans, too. Mason bees were the predominant bee in North America until honey bees were introduced. However, regarding their impact on the natural world, Mason bees have a 95% pollination rate, while honeybees have a 5% pollination rate.

What Types of Bees Are There?

Honey Bees

Honey bees are usually the first to come to mind when thinking about these delicate, flying insects; they comprise a large percentage of all bees worldwide. There are triple the number of honey bees in Canada and the US compared to people.

Honey bees are very social. They live in large colonies within hives or natural crevices like tree trunks, collecting nectar from plants, which they turn into honey. These bees are kept commercially to pollinate crops and for the honey they produce.

European or Western Honey Bees

The European or Western honey bee, domesticated for thousands of years, is the most common species across many continents. Its popularity has led to its introduction to areas like North America, Australia, and Asia, but this has resulted in a decline in native bee species.


Honey bees might take center stage, but 20,000 individually recorded bee species are essential to the environment. The bumblebee is another well-known species of bee that lives in small colonies and is an excellent pollinator because of its fuzzy bodies that help to collect pollen.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are a common sight in many parts of the world and are easily recognizable because of their large size, solitary lifestyle, and dark color, and they nest by creating tunnels in wood.

Mason Bees

Mason bees are the original native species in North America and are gentle, solitary bees that collect pollen rather than nectar, like the honeybee.

Interestingly, they are three times better pollinators than honeybees as they specifically collect pollen from plants. This is because Mason bees only live for one season, so they do not need to make a winter food source of honey.

Related content: What are the Goals of Wildlife Conservation?

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