The importance of bees in the garden

Although many people fear bees and consider them annoying insects, the truth is that they are fundamental in the process of pollination and in maintaining the food chain.

What is happening with bees?

Over the last decade, there has been a sharp decline in honeybee populations in both Europe and North America, putting the international community on alert for risks to ecosystems and the proper functioning of the food chain. Ninety per cent of crop species are pollinated by insects, mostly bees, so a decline in their population would affect food production.

What are the causes?

Since a US scientific study in 2011 pointed to neonicotinoid insecticides as the cause of the decline in honeybee populations in Europe and North America, much has been said and written about the issue. In fact, the European Union, following the report of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), decided to restrict the use of some of these insecticides in some crops and especially in treated seeds.

However, producers of treated seeds, of plant protection products and extensive agricultural producers indicate that the scientific studies are not conclusive and that other possible causes should be further investigated.

Other studies indicate that among the causes of bee depopulation are attacks by parasites and predators. In 2004 the Agrarian Center of Marchamalo detected the presence of the parasite Nosema ceranae in Spain and determined that it was the cause of the important depopulation that the hives were suffering. On the other hand, in 2010, the Asian Wasp (Vespa velutina nigritorax), a very lethal invasive species with honey bees, arrived in Spain. It has now been included in the Special Catalogue of Invasive Alien Species (Law 42/2007) on Natural Heritage and Biodiversity.

The destruction of natural habitats, drought and desertification are other factors that currently affect natural populations, not only of bees, but of many other animal and plant species.

What can be done?

As gardening enthusiasts we must be aware of the ecological importance of insects and the impact that our activity can have on the environment.

We recommend the use of biological techniques for crop management. However, we are not saying that any phytosanitary product should be avoided, but when you use them you should follow the indications regarding dosage, method of application and safety periods.

And always think about the importance of maintaining biodiversity in our garden!

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