While these tiny pollinators play a big role in maintaining the health of our ecosystems, understanding why bees are important is not often common knowledge.
Making the conscious decision to cultivate a native garden is a way to embrace your local climate, and form a mini ecosystem. Depending on where you live, plants that are native to our landscape are considered to be relatively easy to grow and are often already accustomed to the rainfall and soil conditions exclusive to your abode.
For many gardeners, the big attraction of this practice is that you’re actively encouraging local wildlife to swing by, such as birds, butterflies and bees, with the latter having a well earned reputation as being one of nature’s best pollinators. However, understanding the true depth of why bees are important will also guarantee a new appreciation for their presence in your backyard and garden.
Why Bees Are Important For The Natural World
The importance of bees can be linked to their role as pollinators. In simple terms, bees are important because they pollinate our plants. In real terms, this means they carry pollen between plants of different sexes to fertilise them, or even between different parts of the same plant, which help plants reproduce. In addition, bees even help plants survive by preventing inbreeding.
Australian native bees don’t store nectar, and therefore they generally don’t produce honey. It’s for this reason that European honey bees were introduced into Australia about two hundred years ago, but the cost of this honey does come at a price. European honey bees steal food from native birds and animals and take over their homes, but they do pollinate some of our crops and many of our native plants.
In contrast, native bees pollinate native plants, many of which can’t be pollinated by introduced bees. Some flowers need vibration to release pollen, which many of our native bees can do, and European honey bees often cannot. In turn, both types of bees have a role to play when it comes to keeping the natural world ticking.
Outside of domestic settings, bees also have an important part to play when it comes to their contribution to the Australian agriculture industry. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Australia’s agricultural production benefits from bee pollination, and numerous studies have shown that the addition of bees at a time when plants are flowering significantly increases both the yield and quality of crops.
While beekeeping is a relatively small sub-sector in the agriculture industry, honey and other hive products generate around $100 million per year in Australia. While this is still a sizable figure, the contribution of honey bees to agriculture through pollination services is estimated to be 140% higher than this figure, and was valued at around $14.2 billion in Australia in 2017.
Despite the benefits, both native bees and honey bees are under threat. With global movements and the intensification of farming practices, the prevalence of a number of bee diseases is increasing. Until this year, Australia was the only continent that remained free from the Varroa Destructor mite, responsible for spreading viruses and contributing to large scale honey bee colony losses around the world.
Varroa mite was first detected on June 22, 2022, at two sentinel hives at the Port of Newcastle, so it could have come in via ship. While the sentinel hives were designed to detect pests and diseases at their earliest entry and are checked every six to eight weeks, the Varroa mite has since spread all across New South Wales, infecting well over one hundred separate commercial European bee hives in the state.
In addition to pests, a loss of access to nesting sites, nectar and pollen resources also impacts native bee populations. Habitat destruction results from clear fell logging practices, and from urban encroachment, while viable business practices are also getting more difficult for commercial beekeepers as the laws linked to this industry are complex, and vary between each of the states and territories.
In addition, chemical based products like insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and fertilisers can all be highly toxic to bees, but many of these are commonly used in agriculture, horticulture and even residential garden settings – all of which negatively impact bee health and numbers.
Now that you have a firm grasp on exactly why bees are important, planting the right types of native plants to attract them is a must. To ensure that you’re providing a safe environment for them, steering clear of chemical based weed solutions is a must – but what’s the alternative?
Introducing A Safer Way To Spray
Bioweed is an organic, non selective weed killer that works fast on contact with the weed, in order to rapidly desiccate and burn even the most stubborn of plants. It can be used anywhere around the house including garden beds, veggie patches, paths and driveways, and is safe to use around children, animals and even native wildlife.
The best part? Bioweed is the brainchild of well established agricultural leaders greenPRO, and is backed by over twenty years of research and development. Owned and manufactured in Australia, the primary ingredient of Bioweed is actually sustainably sourced pine oil, and is even approved by NASAA, ACO and APVMA for use around organic farms and food production.
If you’re on the hunt for a nature friendly weed killer, or simply want to know more about eliminating weeds safely – check out other tips and tricks in our online advice forum, or contact us for any further queries.