Did you know that bees are disappearing around the world? And that without bees, one third of all food we eat would simply vanish?
So what does that mean for your garden? Taronga Zoo’s resident bee expert Elio Bombonato gives us the lowdown.
1. Your garden won’t smell quite so sweet
A fragrant garden inspires the eye and pleasures the nose. A research study in Switzerland found that plants pollinated solely by bumblebees produced TWICE as much scent when compared to those pollinated by hoverflies. Honey smelling flowers have been shown to attract bees, whereas bad or foul-smelling flowers are usually for flies.
2. Without bees, plant growth would be stunted
Blurred garden edges and overgrown weeds creates chaos. If you’re not great at keeping on top of your garden, the decline in the bee population might actually be doing you some favours. Native Green Carpenter bees (Xylocopa Lestis) have been found to be effective within tomato pollination, with heavier flowers and more seeds than tomatoes that were not pollinated by Lestis. Additionally, research has shown Australian Stingless bees (Trigona carbonaria) to be efficient pollinators of flowers of macadamia.
3. You’ll need to reconsider your fruit and vegetable patch
Most fruit species need an insect to carry pollen to the flowers. However, some Australian crops specifically require bee pollination for proper development of their fruit. These include tomatoes, pears, apples, eggplants, blueberries, cherries and chilli peppers.
4. Your garden will become a lot less colourful
Without bees, plants can begin to self-pollinate. Self-pollination refers to a flower that has the ability to pollinate itself and other flowers produced by the same plant, which over time reduces the genetic variability in the plant population.
5. Every garden has its own distinct wildlife habitat - without bees, these habitats are under threat
Bees are known for their sophisticated hives, but what many people don’t know is that they also build homes for millions of other garden insects and animals. Their role as pollinators is vital in the growth of many tree species, which overtime become the habitat of many garden critters. If bees were wiped out, the animals that depend on these plants for survival would disappear as well.
6. Without bees, we’d see a reduction in biodiversity
Biodiversity and food diversity are largely the result of pollination. As pollinators, bees have a great influence in every aspect of the ecosystem. Bees allow a diverse number of species to co-exist, contributing to complex, interconnected ecosystems.
To pledge your support towards the bees, you can pick up a limited edition Burt’s Bees #BringBackTheBees lip balm from selected pharmacies. For every limited edition lip balm sold, $1 will be donated to the Wheen Bee Foundation, an Australian non-profit organisation that raises money for bee research.
Bee in the know
For more information on how you can help support the bees, head to Burt’s Bees #BringBackTheBees.