Honey Bees are not Important... Aren't They?
Honey Bees - those furry little flying insects you see buzzing around your flowers - are often seen as pests. They appear when you least want them, and you might not even know they exist until they buzz around your head (causing you to panic and scramble for cover).
Honey Bees have received a bad rap, but they are actually essential to our environment. That includes non-native bees that have been brought to the US from across the globe. They do far more than just make honey - without them, our planet would look very different indeed. And while many claim that our world would be better without non-native bees in our neighborhoods, we depend on them for more than you might expect.
Let's break down some common myths about Honey Bees and see why we should be looking for ways to increase their population and preserve their species. After all, if we aren’t native to these lands, why shouldn’t bees make this their home too?
Myth #1: Non-Native Honey Bees Aren't As Important As Native Honey Bees
The latest estimates from the FDA find that of the 3,600 types of bees that exist in the United States, non-native Honey Bees are the most common. This often leads to many thinking that invasive Honey Bees are less important than native bees.
However, this simply isn't true. Non-native Honey Bees play a vital role in our environment - they pollinate plants, helping create food sources for other species and playing an essential role in preserving biodiversity. For example, the European Honey Bee is the most effective pollinator of many of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that make up our diets.
Myth #2: Honey Bees aren’t endangered, they are like “cattle”.
Unfortunately, on top of the Colony Collapse Disorder, a widespread bacterial disease called American foulbrood is destroying entire colonies of honey bees. But fortunately for the honey bees and the many crops that depend on them for pollination, FDA has approved three antibiotics to control this devastating honey bee disease.
Myth #3: Honey Bees Aren't Necessary
Without honey bees, the world would look drastically different. Pollinators are essential for ecosystems to thrive, and honey bees make up a large portion of the global pollinating population. In fact, they are responsible for up to 80% of pollination globally!
The unique role that even non-native honey bees play in pollinating our crops in the US contributes nearly $15 billion in added crop value! That's a lot of produce for us to enjoy and rely on.
Myth #4: We Have Too Many Honey Bees Already
You may think that there are too many Honey Bees buzzing around already, but the truth is that their numbers have been steadily declining in recent years. This is due to a variety of factors, such as pesticides, climate change, and disease.
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon where honey bee colonies suddenly vanish, and the cause remains unknown. This has led to a dramatic reduction in their numbers, which could have severe implications for the environment. Studies into why this is happening and ways of preventing it are ongoing.
Myth #5: Honey Bees Aren't Worth The Buzz
It's tempting to think that the value of a Honey Bee doesn't quite justify the fuss they cause - but this couldn't be further from the truth. Honey Bees are actually massive revenue generators! (And we don't even pay them!)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service found that Honey Bees created 157 million pounds of honey at a value of $339 million in 2019 alone! That's a lot of honey and a huge economic impact!
Help Support Honey Bees Today!
The truth is honey bees are essential - both native and non-native. And while it's true that some species, such as the European Honey Bee, are more successful than others in certain climates, their importance can't be understated. So next time you see a bee buzzing around your flowers, consider thanking the native and non-native bees for their hard work.
At Project Honey Bees, we are committed to helping preserve and protect Honey Bees by providing resources and education for those interested in supporting their mission. You can support ongoing research and protection of these furry friends by adopting your very own Honey Bee! Each adoption comes with a small necklace or bracelet that will help you remember what an important role these little creatures play in our lives.
It's time to put these myths to rest and recognize the importance of Honey Bees - if not for them, our ecosystems would suffer, and many of our favorite foods wouldn't even exist. Let's join together to protect these amazing creatures!