JEDDAH: With talk of climate change, devastating droughts and growing concerns about the state of food systems due to continuing conflicts, it’s easy to forget the buzz surrounding one of nature’s simplest creatures and their profound role in our food chain — the bee.
Humans most often associate bees with honey. In addition to being a delicious ingredient for sweet and savory dishes, honey is used in traditional medicine to treat various conditions such as asthma, eye infections, and more. In modern medicine, researchers have noted honey’s antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Honey, however, is far from the most important reason to protect bees. This is because bees play a crucial role in pollination: Nearly 75 percent of the world’s leading crops depend on animal pollination. Bees remain the most dominant pollinators of wild and crop plants.
In 2019, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, released a statement highlighting the threat that the declining number of bees and other pollinators posed to global food security and nutrition.
It is challenging to calculate the number of bees in the world; some experts believe there are at least two trillion bees worldwide, divided into seven families and about 20,000 species. Other experts believe there are between 80 million to 100 million beehives worldwide, with a single bee colony containing 10,000 to 60,000 bees.