From a 'human-centric' point of view, bees are responsible for pollinating around a third of the food we eat (this includes meat from animals that graze on bee-pollinated clover and alfalfa) - as well as many of the crops we grow for drinks, medicines and textiles. However, bees are important for more reasons than the fact that they pollinate food for human consumption..........
Bees also pollinate over 80% of the world’s wild flowers and, interestingly, whilst great attention is always given to the bee’s role as our main crop pollinator, we would do well to note that they play an equally important role as ‘keystone species’ in the planet’s eco-systems. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
But, apart from the fact that honeybees should be valued for more than just their economic worth, it is important to note that:
a) it is not just honeybees that are in decline
Here's a very interesting list of 'who pollinates what' - List of plants pollinated by bees
If you remove a keystone species from any given eco-system, you risk at the very least a great reduction in the biodiversity of that community - and at worst it’s complete collapse.
Eco-systems are incredibly complex; each made up of numerous, diverse, dynamic, interconnected communities.
We cannot keep removing the building blocks that hold these systems together and expect them to survive.
By compromising the earth’s eco-systems we compromise all life on Earth, including, ultimately, our own. Our lack of joined-up thinking and our blinkered human-centric behaviour are, ironically, leading us to neglect and destroy the very systems that nurture and sustain us. I cannot over emphasis the importance of the role bees and other pollinators play in supporting and maintaining the fragile balance that allows ‘life as we know it’ to exist on planet Earth.
Deforestation has been occurring in the British Isles since the arrival of Neolithic man and has reached the stage where, today, less than 12% of the UK is still wooded. Crucially, less than half this area is planted with native trees (the rest being planted with non-native conifers) - and only 2% of the land area in Britain is still covered in ancient woodlands. Given how little of our ancient woodland remains, it beggars belief that in the last 10 years 648 ancient woods have come under threat from unnecessary or insensitive development.