There are over 20,000 known species of bees worldwide. Bees are one of the most helpful creatures even though many see them as being pests.
The species, Apis mellifera, also known as the Africanised honeybee populates Trinidad and Tobago. Their lifecycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The Queen Bee is responsible for laying the eggs, the drone bees (male bees) are responsible for mating with the queen, and the worker bees (female bees) perform all the labour in the hive such as cleaning, feeding the brood and taking care of the Queen.
Bees are very important in agriculture. They produce honey and all the other by-products that can be derived from the honeycomb such as beeswax, royal jelly, propolis [bee glue] and many more.
Bees provide pollination services for a large number of plants. Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the male part of a plant to the female part, which enables fertilisation and the production of seeds.
Pollination can occur via the wind or by insects. Most food crops, except cereals (barley, rice, etc), rely on insects for pollination and approximately 73 per cent of the world’s crops are pollinated by bees (Reddy, Verghese and Rajan, 2012). Crops such as vegetables, fruits and nuts depend on bees for pollination.
In other countries, farmers usually contract beekeepers for their growing season so that the bees can pollinate their crops ensuring high yields. In the cotton and almond industry, bees ensure pollination which makes them an asset as they create profit. Honeybees pollinate plants that are habitats and food sources for other animals making them an advocate in environmental sustainability.
However, there are many factors that are currently reducing the populations of our bees. The use of harmful agricultural chemicals pose a serious threat to these pollinators. If proper care and maintenance is not given to a colony, pest and diseases can also be hazardous.
Finally, there is a stigma that exists with regard to the danger of bees. I believe that once the importance of bees is understood, we can all try to preserve them rather than eliminate them.
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