The Humble Bumblebee: Why Is He So Important To Our Ecosystem?

Bumble Bee

As you find yourself spending increasingly more time outside this summer, the chances are you’re going to bump into a bee or two.

Many people are afraid of bees, lumping them into the same pest category as the infamous wasp, but there’s really no need to be. Bees are beautiful insects, and for the best part they are peaceful, only stinging as a last resort.

In fact, bees play a vital role in our ecosystem, ensuring the annual pollination and propagation of many of our favourite plants and flowers. Without them, everything from the face of the UK countryside to the state of our economy as we know it would change.

Let’s look at this in more detail:

The bumblebee

Bees are a cornerstone of the British countryside. It is difficult to imagine rural England without them, hopping from flower to flower, clinging to petals while, underneath them, stalks sway precariously from their added weight.

Their distinctive buzz can be considered a benchmark for the British summer, carrying lazily across fields dotted with picnickers and dogs-walkers.

The bees themselves are delightful creatures, as laden with charm as they are the pollen that makes them so integral to our continued ecosystem.

Britain’s bees

In the UK we have twenty-four species of bumblebee, although you’re only likely to bump into about eight of these. They’re found across the length of the country, from flowering riverbanks to your prized flower-beds, depending on the flowers and the types of bee in question.

Different bees have different tastes, giving rise to a range of distinctive honeys, each infused with the flavour of a specific garden or flower. Harvested and enjoyed in their natural state, no two honeys are likely to taste the same.

But it is not honey production that makes the humble bumblebee so important. Rather, it is his role as pollinator of Britain’s plants and flowers, ensuring the propagation and longevity of our countryside each year.

Pollination

It is estimated that without the natural pollination carried out by bees, the UK would lose anywhere from a third to half of its national food supply. Ecosystems are complex webs, and the loss of the bumblebee would have a profound effect on the integrity of our natural habitats.

Without these crucial pollinators, plants would struggle to procreate. Wildflowers in particular depend on the attention of bees to spread their pollen. As keystone components of many food chains, the loss of wildflowers would be devastating.

The impacts of this loss would be far reaching, affecting everything from insects and birds to larger mammals.

Fewer, leaner livestock directly translates to reduced food commodities. And yet, this is exactly what is happening.

Death of the bees

Since the 1930s it is estimated that we have already lost a staggering 97% of our flower-rich grassland to agriculture and increasing urbanisation. Given that bees rely entirely upon flowers as their food source, it is unsurprising that their populations have begun to suffer.

In the UK alone, the bee population has fallen between 10% and 15% over the last two years.

Two species have already become extinct in the UK since the start of the twenty-first century, and several others are in trouble, with the very real possibility that they could become extinct in the UK within a short time. In particular, the Great yellow bumblebee and the Shrill carder bee are most at risk.

If we are to preserve the natural beauty of our countryside and the structure of our ecosystems, actions need to be taken to help save the bees.

Conservation

2BScientific are proud to support the fight to save Britain’s honeybee and bumblebee. We understand the importance of the role our bees play in maintaining the country’s status quo.

This is why, for every order placed with us, we contribute £1.00 to the British Bee Keepers Association, for research into understanding and hopefully reversing the decline of this important insect.

For further information about the importance of the bee, see The British Bee Keepers Association here.  To get in touch with 2BScientific, call us on +44 (0)1869 238033 or contact us here. 

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