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Bees – extraordinary creatures

 

For time immemorial bees have had an important and significant role in the ecological system of our planet.

 

What exactly makes bees so worth to be protected?

 

 

(picture: S.Luff)

 

 

 
Tiny but important

Humans have already used honey bees for several thousand years.  The worldwide economic performance of bees and other pollinating insects is estimated to be approx. 153 Billion Euros. In Germany the utility value of bees is approx. four billion. That makes the honey bee after cows and pigs the third important production animal. So the bee is one of the smallest but also one of the most important production animals of our culture.

 

 

 
„Busy as a bee“

A single bee would have to fly around the earth two times in order to harvest one pound of honey. But fortunately the bee colony is working together and harvests an area of approx. 50 km². Each single collecting bee flies out about 40 times a day and visits thousands of flowers. While collecting nectar pollen attach to the coat of the bee and is carried to another plant.  This is very important for the biological diversity, in the temperate zone bees even are the most important pollinating animals. About 80 percent of all types of plants are depending on cross-pollination and about 80 percent of these plants are pollinated by bees.

 

 

 

A marvel of nature

Bees are brilliant architects. Already Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei already studied the hexagonal structure of honeycombs which are space, material and energy saving at the same time. Today hexagons are a indispensable part of our life and you can find them in airplane constructions for extra-light but sturdy construction parts and in architecture to construct earthquake resistant buildings. Also the physical properties of bees themselves are more and more centre of scientific interest. Scientists try to construct a so called oil wipe by imitating the function of the legs of oil bees. This special type of bees is collecting oil from flowers with their legs which have a special hair construction that enables them to fly even at fast speed without losing any oil.  Exactly this construction should be used to gain control over big oil catastrophes like the "Deepwater Horizon" catastrophe in April 2010.

 

 

 
More EU support

It is un-questionable that the bees are important and valuable for our economic system. The EU committee also recognized the big danger of a shrinking bee population, the lowest in years by the way. The provided financial EU support per year for co-financing national beekeeper programs was raised up to 32 million EUR until 2013. In the years 2008 to 2010 the yearly volume was 26 million EUR. This economic measure is supposed to enforce local beekeeper programs and keep the up going trend of the last few years.