Pollination, biodiversity and our well-being: everything is interconnected

Fight for biodiversity through beekeeping 

We should take action to protect, not exploit, our planet’s biodiversity before we reach a point of no return for our overstretched insect workforce.

’The Earth's biological resources are vital to humanity's economic and social development. As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is today. Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate....

Human activities have already resulted in the loss of biodiversity and thus may have affected goods and services crucial for human well-being. ... There is ample evidence that climate change affects biodiversity. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, climate change is likely to become one of the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss by the end of the century. Climate change is already forcing biodiversity to adapt either through shifting habitat, changing life cycles, or the development of new physical traits.’

Biodiversity also has an important role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. For example, soils, forests hold vast stores of carbon. The way managed habitats are used will affect how much of that carbon is released in gaseous form into the atmosphere. Studies pointing up to the conclusion that diverse biological communities are more likely to adapt to climate change and climate variability than impoverished ones. Also, studies looking at the long-term persistence of animal species have shown that where there is high genetic plants diversity the ability of animals to remain in a given area is significantly enhanced.

Wild bees and honeybees are essential to our ecosystems. Their ecological and morphological characteristics make them complementary actors in the preservation of our environment. Honeybees live in colonies of several thousand individuals (50,000 in summer to 10,000 in winter), giving them tremendous pollination potential. Honeybees are massive pollinators and also performing crossover pollination. ‘For example, insect pollination in the EU has an estimated economic value of € 15 billion per year. The continued decline in bees and other pollinators could have serious consequences for Europe’s farmers and agri-business sector.’

Bee decline is a global problem. All species of bees (insects) are often threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation resulting from more intensive agriculture, extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers, urban development and climate change. Any major decline of the pollinating insects’ population would therefore have a dramatic impact on biodiversity and related economic activities. Because of the urban living and habits in urban areas, people in cities are losing contact with nature and related activities like pollination, biodiversity, food production. Policy makers are also disconnected from the importance of bees for preserving biodiversity which is an essential factor in food production for humans and food for wildlife.  

The new Red List issued by the European Commission which includes recommendations on species and habitat conservation, will feed into the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. The Strategy includes targets on implementing EU legislation on nature protection, restoration of degraded ecosystems and more sustainable agriculture – all of which should improve the situation for bees.

The measures needed to preserve bees therefore also benefit people, animals and all kinds of pollinating insects. Biodiversity is not just a matter for specialists who explore and study it; it is essentially our means of survival. In fact, from near or far, we are all involved, be it as a business, a farmer, scientist, industrialist, politician, or quite simply as a child or parent. This virtuous circle guarantees that the beneficial impact will be far greater!


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