Apiculture is a highly important sector, not only because its evolution affects the good or bad preservation of ecosystems, but also because it is closely related to the agricultural sector, greatly improving crop productivity if both activities are combined.
In fact, approximately 90% of flowering plants need pollination in order to reproduce. This includes most of the foods we incorporate into our daily diet, which are obtained through fruit trees (apple, pear, almond…), fodder legumes (alfalfa), cucurbits (melons, pumpkins…) and other horticultural crops such as strawberries or tomatoes.
What is the relationship between apiculture and agriculture?
The first beneficiary of apiculture is undoubtedly the agricultural sector. As we said, both have a close relationship and one without the other would have serious problems, both economically and environmentally.
If apiculture did not exist or was very scarce, agriculture would fall into decline. We mentioned earlier that if it were not for bees we would not be able to eat most of the food we usually eat because, although there are more pollination methods and more insects that perform this task, bees are the main drivers of crops.
On the other hand, with regard to the economy, if there were no bees, the costs of replacing them to achieve good productivity would be very high and, without the necessary funding, it would not be possible, so we would be left without enough food. This would cause the collapse of the agricultural sector followed by a serious risk to people’s health.
Benefits of bees
Bees are not just honey, they perform multiple key functions for the development of ecosystems and are a fundamental pillar for the health of humanity.
To begin with, these little bees promote the reproduction of an enormous number of botanical species. So much so that there are flowers that only survive thanks to them, specifically thanks to solitary bees that only collect pollen from certain wild flowers.
Apart from increasing biodiversity, they multiply the income of agricultural regions, due to the large increase in crops caused by the presence of apiculture, which can triple or more.
Added to all this are the foods that they themselves create, such as honey or royal jelly, or those that can be obtained through certain processes, such as beeswax or propolis. These bee derivatives, apart from being highly nutritious, are anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.
Bees must be protected
With all the benefits that bees provide, it is clear that we must protect them and promote sustainable apiculture. But unfortunately there are many factors that harm them, such as pollution and habitat loss, among other things.
Air pollution interferes with the bees’ task of locating pollen. It happens that the odor molecules given off by the flowers mix with the air pollution and the bees cannot find the plants they need to pollinate, leading to poorer results.
In addition, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, besides damaging plants with their excessive use, also harm insects. The abusive use of these products is damaging the fauna and flora and we can feel their effects.
On the other hand, habitat loss is due to the practices used by modern agriculture, which is highly industrialized. It uses the aforementioned pesticides and fertilizers. The use of monoculture also reduces biodiversity and, therefore, the food source of our pollinators.
Companies such as Syngenta are trying to implement actions for the care and protection of bees, which is why they created the Operation Pollinator program, focused on promoting the presence of pollinating insects in the agricultural sector.
More practices that we can do would be to abstain from the use of those harmful products that harm this species and its habitats. In addition, the Minister of Agriculture Ignacia Fernandez suggests a method which consists of growing native plants that bloom at different times of the year and adding a container of water next to the plants to feed the bees and ensure good pollination.
In short, there are multiple benefits provided by these small insects and therefore we must protect and promote apiculture for a greater development of both the ecosystem and the agricultural sector.
In our International Master in Agribusiness Management we have visited several companies, including Biobest and Agrobio, which promote the use of bees and bumblebees for a more efficient pollination.