A True Friend of Environment -Shahrin Tabassum
Every plant and animal has an equal role in maintaining the natural balance. Everyone builds ecosystems through interdependence. A small but important animal in this ecosystem is the bee. By helping in the pollination of flowers, bees are able to increase the production of forest, fruit and agricultural crops by 25-30%. So bees continue to play an important role both directly and indirectly in sustaining our lives.
Naturally the bee is a social, industrious and beneficial insect. A hive is inhabited by a queen bee, hundreds of male bees and thousands of worker bees. The worker bees become infertile and collect nectar and pollen from the flowers. Also collects sweet sap from leaves, stems of plants, sweet fruits and sugary foods. Naturally bee stomachs are two. One contains daily food and the other contains nectar collected from flowers. This nectar produces honey by reacting with enzymes in the bee’s body. The main ingredients in honey are sugar which contains dextrose, maltose, glucose, levulose and sucrose. Honey also contains calcium, phosphorus, potassium etc. along with niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B, amino acids, pantothenic. Honey helps to increase the body’s resistance to disease.
There are about 20,000 species of bees in the world. There are four types of bees in nature: Apis melifera, Apis dorseta, Apis Serena and Apis floria. Apis melifera species is profitable in the context of Bangladesh. In the case of this species, it is possible to collect up to 50kg of honey on an average with an investment of 25-26thousand taka per year. On the other hand, in the case of Apis Serena, it is possible to produce an average of 5-10kg of honey by investing 15-18thousand taka. 200-900gm and 50-60kg honey can be extracted from Apis floria and Apis dorseta respectively. Another species of bee is known as a stingless bee. In fact, their stings do not develop and they produce 300-400grams of honey a year. Bees usually nest in large trees, tree huts, cornices etc.
In the UK, 30 percent of crops and 90 percent of plants are pollinated by bees. Currently, many developing countries, including Bangladesh, and even developed countries, are cultivating bees commercially to extract honey and beeswax. Honey carries 45 types of nutrients which relieve colds and coughs, cures diarrhoea and thin stools and also helps in reducing fat. It is possible to get 260-304grams of calories per 100grams of honey. Wax is also widely used in various cosmetic products including candles. Bees do not just help us with honey and beeswax. They also play an important role in maintaining the balance of the environment. Bees increase fruit production by pollinating different flowers. Helps to preserve the species. Bees play an important role in the food chain. They rely on pollen for protein foods and flower extracts for sugars. As a result of pollination, seeds are produced in the process of fertilization. Without these seeds, the existence of plants would have disappeared. Extreme food shortages were seen. So its role in protecting biodiversity is undeniable.
Bees influence every aspect of the ecosystem. The existence of different species depends directly and indirectly on it. Various trees and plants cannot grow without bee pollination. Many insect habitats and food supplies come from bees. Bees also help in the production of various wild plants such as nuts, berries, broccoli, avocados, kiwis, various seeds and fruits. These are the regular food of wild animals. If these are not born, part of the biodiversity is likely to be lost. In the UK, 80 percent of wild flowers are pollinated by bees. A study in the United Kingdom found that between 1980 and 2013, about one-third of the 353 species of wild bees were lost, according to the journal Nature Communications which poses a serious threat to the environment.
Beneficial insect bees are on the verge of extinction today. The main reasons for this are natural disasters, climate change, air pollution, high temperatures, unfavorable environment for wheeling, deforestation, overuse of pesticides, etc. Brickfields may be one of the reasons for bee extinction. The bee’s natural habitat is destroyed as all the surrounding trees are cut down to supply small and large trees to the brickyard. Many species are extinct today due to lack of habitat. On the other hand, unskilled beekeepers collect honey unplanned. Many times bees are killed while chasing bees with smoke and fire. Excessive use of pesticides in the land also affects bees’ behavior, education, direction, honey collection and their physical growth. Pesticides and herbicides kill bees. The European Union recently banned the use of neonix-rich pesticides. Another enemy of the bee is a tiny insect called Varoa. This one insect is capable of destroying an entire colony of bees. Only the queen bee can survive. A documentary called “More Than Honey” was made in the UK on the death of bees. This documentary shows that swarms of bees are dying all over the world. Today bees are endangered on all continents. Bees help pollinate 80 percent of the plants. This would cost about 26 trillion euros a year to operate on artificial devices, which would be extremely costly.
The extinction of bees is having an adverse effect on fruit and crop production. The production of crops pollinated by bees increases by 10-15 percent in different honey flowering seasons. But today they are on the verge of extinction due to various natural and man-made reasons. When bees become extinct, the main problem will be food crisis. They increase crop production through pollination. All animals in the animal kingdom depend on fruit crops. If bees become extinct, the food chain will become unbalanced. Seeds are produced by fertilization through pollination. Failure to produce these seeds will have a direct impact on herbivores. Their numbers will continue to dwindle and one by one each layer of the food chain will face destruction. Many beneficial trees will also disappear with it. This is expected to cause irreparable damage to the environment.
Bees directly contribute to food production in the United States worth 1.5 billion annually. The study found that between October 2016 and April 2019, about 40 percent of bee colonies in the United States were destroyed, the highest in the last 13 years. So the United States has formed a task force to protect bees. In addition to the task force, everyone has to come forward from their own position. In order to protect the bees, the use of pesticides in the land should be reduced first. The use of biological pesticides instead of chemical pesticides is relatively safe. The use of Neonix pesticides should be stopped completely. In addition to greenery, colorful flowers and fruit trees should be planted in the yard. Artificial box for bees can be kept in the middle of mustard field in winter. This will allow the bees to extract nectar very easily. It helps in pollination as well as collecting honey from colorful flowers in the spring and from mango, blackberry, jackfruit etc. in summer. So these are the best times to collect honey from bees. Honey beekeepers should be given proper education so that they do not harm the bees while collecting honey. A queen bee can live up to 2 years. Therefore, during the collection of honey from the hive, some part can be saved without cutting the hive completely so that the worker bees can grow the hive again with the help of the queen bee. A suitable environment should be created for tying the wheel. We have to try to reduce air pollution. In this way it will be possible to protect bees, bees and natural honey and the environment as well.
Bees play a role in the development of the environment as well as the economy. Along with nature, many are now benefiting from commercial beekeeping. Bees are cultivated in almost every district of Bangladesh. More honey is produced in the Sundarbans. Bees continue to play a huge role in the country’s economy. There are about 17,000 beekeepers involved in honey production in the country. In the financial year 2019-20, the amount of land under beekeeping in the country is 69,036 hectares. About 2 lakh people are working in the honey production industry. 25,000 beekeepers collect honey through 75,000 beehives. 1151 active beekeepers are directly involved in bee keeping. There are also 7 private honey processing centers in the country. According to the 2019-20 report, China is at the top in honey production. Bangladesh ranks 73rd in honey exports and 7th in imports. In addition to supplying honey to the country’s market, Bangladesh is now exporting honey to many countries including India, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
Science says that if bees are lost from the earth, human civilization will last only four years. So now is the right time. In order to survive, other endangered species, including bees, must also survive. More trees need to be planted and tree planting programs need to be implemented. Various public awareness activities should be undertaken to facilitate public understanding. Only then will we be able to maintain the balance of the environment by protecting our endangered species.
Shahrin Tabassum is a student of Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh.