Bees are possibly one of the most important animals on the planet when it comes to securing the future of both mother nature and humankind. They are known to be one of the best pollinators in the world (they pollinate about a third of our overall food supply and approximately 84% of our crops), and are responsible for a decent chunk of our future food security. They are also one of the main protectors of our biodiversity and many studies have shown that if the bees were to disappear, many plants, animals, and even humans, would soon follow.
You’re probably wondering why an article like this is in a pond magazine but if you have any plants in or around your aquatic ecosystem, you may owe a lot more to bees than you actually realise. Plus, we love bees almost as much as we love ponds and since most native species are stingless loners, helping the little guys out will a do a lot for the environment without having much of an impact on your lifestyle, if it has any at all.
In Australia specifically, we have around 1650 native species of bees but that number could be under serious threat if we don’t get a handle on issues such as habitat reduction, the introduction and spread of dangerous parasites, and, in some cases, deliberate removal and/or killing of local populations. That’s a pretty scary thought since a reduction in native bee numbers could spell the end for many plants and our landscape as we know it since a lot of our native species can only be pollinated by native bees.
If we look a little closer to home, say your backyard for instance, these mini mates are also doing a lot of work behind the scenes that they probably never get any recognition for:
- Bees are much like frogs in that they’re a great indicator of whether an ecosystem is healthy, especially if you’re looking to identify changes over time.
- If you have any type of garden (veggie, flower, aquatic, etc.), your buzzy little friends help keep it happy and healthy by pollinating it and helping your strongest plants spread their seeds.
- Healthy bees also mean a healthier habitat since many flowering plants and bees are mutually beneficial to each other.
- Your fish may also be beneficial to the relationship between bees and flowers and if they’re good for it, it’s probably good for them.
- More bees tends to mean less of other nasty insects as they prefer different food sources and an abundance of bee food means there probably isn’t much in the way attractors for insects such as flies or mozzies.
- They can play a small part in reducing mud and other nasty sediment as many species need these for their nests.
- Fun Extra: Honey bees (European bees) can make pretty interesting pets that will also provide you with delicious honey for free.
So what can you do to help and protect your little buzzy friends?
- Avoid the use of pesticides and nasty chemicals within your backyard.
- Provide a water source. You’re already doing this by having a pond but if you’d rather that bees not float about on your surface, you can create a special little bee bath for them as well.
- Have clusters of plants that attract them in your garden.
- Buy or build a DIY Bee Hotel and place it in your garden near your pond and/or some native plants.
This list is in no way exhaustive but it is a good start. Let us know your thoughts and other bee friendly backyard habits or ideas in the comments!