Pollination, Food, and Environment
Pollinators are not only vital to our food supply, they are a key part of biodiversity that all forms of life depend on.
The World Bee Project supports all pollinators, and protects threatened plant populations and the wildlife that depends on their environments for their survival.
POLLINATION IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES ON OUR PLANET
It is through pollination that plants are fertilised and able to produce the next generation of plants, including the fruit and vegetables and crops that we eat to survive.
Of all the different animals and insects that serve as pollinators, the most important are wild bees and honeybees. Worldwide, we have over 20,000 species of bees, and almost the same number of butterfly and moth species. In the UK we have around 270 species of bees, just under 250 of which are solitary or 'wild' bees, and we also have 59 species of butterflies and 2,500 species of moths. All these species, and flies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other small animals contribute to pollination.
POLLINATORS AND PLANTS HAVE CO-EVOLVED AND ADAPTED TO INTERACT IN LIFE-SUSTAINING, MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL BEHAVIOURS, SERVING EACH OTHER’S NEEDS
Bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and other insects, and small mammals such as lizards, visit flowers to feed on pollen and nectar and as they move around the pollen sticking to their bodies gets transferred from flower to flower, enabling fertilisation. Pollination results in the proliferation of 87% of the world’s flowering plant species plants that provide around 77% of our global food supply.
Pollinated crops include those that provide fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils. Many of these are important dietary sources of vitamins and minerals, without which the risks of malnutrition might be expected to increase. Several crops also represent an important source of income in developing countries, for example, the production of coffee and cocoa.
In addition to food crops, pollinators contribute to crops that provide biofuels (e.g. canola and palm oils), fibres (e.g. cotton), medicines, forage for livestock, and construction materials. Some species also provide materials such as beeswax for candles and musical instruments, and arts and crafts.
Most plants would become extinct without their pollinators and pollinators would become extinct without plants.
Until the last few decades we relied on wild bees to pollinate our vegetables, fruits, nuts and crops , but as the 2016 IPBES Report explains, a growing number of pollinator species worldwide are being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, many of them human-made, threatening millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food supplies.
The bee symbolises our ultimate goal of placing the natural world at the heart of public policy.