I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be occasionally be blogging about themes. This weeks theme is communicating science to the public. And I think of all of my readers as part of the public…unless anyone out there objects. So here’s the lowdown. I am going to let you all know what my project is about, but more importantly why it matters to you. At the end you can all decide whether you would support my research or not. Virtual research donations will be accepted.
You all know that I study native bees (non honeybees), and that I am following what may happen to their populations as urbanization increases and decreases their habitat. I have mentioned this in other posts. Bees are important for agriculture and ecosystem function. In agriculture, bees are used to pollinate about 35% of the global crops. It’s not just honeybees that are used either. Bumblebees are used to pollinate tomatoes and peppers, alkali bees are used for alfalfa pollination, and mason bees are used in orchards. This is a lot of work that could not be done by hand.
In ecosystems, bees are regarded as keystone organisms. This means if they are removed, then the system becomes unstable. Think about it…most flowers need pollination to make seeds for the next generation of plants. No pollination equals no plants. No plants also equals no food for herbivores (plant eaters) and no fruit for animals like birds. As Elbert Einstein put it, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
Now you know. Bees are VERY important.
My project is definitely showing a shift in the ecosystems. It isn’t pretty either. In the small plots the bees don’t have enough homes. The sticks I put out provide more homes, but there are other bees that will take them over and other wasps that will attack the baby bees. It’s just not a happy place for the bees. They need more homes. Lots more homes. When the sticks are attacked and the baby bees killed, that means the next generation will be small. Continue this cycle and they will disappear.
To help slow this cycle, I have been encouraging people to plant more flowering plants in their yards so the bees have food. I have also posted a build your own bee nest post. Building these and placing them in your yard will increase nesting sites.