Photo by _PaulS_

Ecosystems are a complex series of interconnected life forms that depend upon each other. Ecosystems exist in a state of balance and when one component is affected, the whole system is thrown off.

Bees are an integral part of a healthy ecosystem. Here are some things to think about the next time you get annoyed by a bee.

1. Pollination

Bees’ pollination efforts are responsible for a wide diversity of wild flowers and many crops depend on them. In fact, without bees’ pollination of flowering crops and flowers, there would be far less food in general and diversity in particular. In fact, if bees did not pollinate in the wild, some vegetation would become extinct, leaving space for invasive, problematic species to take over. Animals that eat the extinct vegetation would then die off, followed by the carnivorous animals that eat the herbivores. As noted above, it’s a chain reaction.

Crops consumed by humans are also dependent on bees. For example, apples, pears, cucumbers, cherries and other flowering/fruiting crops depend on bees to fertilize the flowers so that fruit will develop. When a bee gets nectar from a flower, it gets coated in pollen. The bee then carries this pollen to another flower, fertilizing it and causing the flower to develop into a fruit. Without pollination, many flowering crops would not yield fruit, or would yield very little.

2. Bee products

Human health is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of bee products. Here are some important items that bees provide that can benefit humans.

  • Honey

    Honey is not just another sweetener. Raw, unfiltered honey that has had minimal processing from hive to jar has many healthful benefits. It contains all sorts of vitamins, including phosphorous, iron, vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E and K. According to herbalist Stephen Buhner, honey has at least 75 different compounds.

    A spoonful of raw honey makes an excellent cough syrup, and it can serve as a base for home-made medicinal syrups. Raw honey is a remarkable dressing for severe burns, and the antibiotic properties of honey have excelled conventional antibiotics in the treatment of ulcers and surgical infections. Honey has even been touted as an excellent treatment for allergies.

  • Beeswax

    This natural, beautiful product has been used to make candles, lip balm, cosmetics, crayons, moisturizers, and other items.

  • Propolis

    This is a substance that bees create from tree resins. It is reported to have strong antibiotic properties and to help fight fatigue. It is full of vitamins and also amino acids (proteins).

  • Royal jelly

    Worker bees produce this white, milky substance to feed the queen. It has vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids and is considered a health food for humans.

  • Venom

    Yes, even bees’ venom has a use. It is used in the development of antivenin to treat stings, and has even been used to relieve arthritis pain.

As you can see, the bee is an important component of the ecosystem, and we humans, as part of the ecosystem, benefit greatly from bees’ efforts.