Thanks to them, we have honey, propolis, wax and royal jelly. However, their role to maintain the balance in nature is more global than that. Bees are the most efficient pollinator; a single bee colony can pollinate 3 million flowers a day.
Plants, just like every other living organism, need to reproduce. Being a bit constrained in terms of movement, they need an agent to transfer the pollen from the male parts of it (called anther) to the female ones (called stigma). When a bee lands on a flower, it attracts the pollen grains through electrostatic force. An ion exchange takes place between the positive charge of the bee and the negative charge of the plant. This is how the bee retrieves the pollen, then carries it to the other plant species and hence seeds, the progeny of flowers, is “born”.
So, what’s in it for the bees? In return for inseminating the plants, bees receive nectar, an ample carbohydrate and sugar source which fuels the colony with energy. Honey bees collect it both to eat it and store it in the cells and subsequently turn it in into honey. They also take some of the pollen, because it is the richest and purest natural food, supplying them with protein, fat, and vitamins.
Bees pollinate about 70 of the 100 crop species that feed 90 % of the world’s population. Apart from being a billion-dollar industry, pollination is what causes the plants to produce fruit. Species that are directly dependent on pollination, such as apples, cherries, blueberries, squash, and oranges, would disappear without the bees’ input. Crops such as alfalfa, sugar beets, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, and onions would still give fruits, but would not generate any seeds and would therefore gradually fade in numbers.
Pollination is responsible for the biodiversity of both plant and animal species. It is the most evident and large-scale reproductive mechanism of nature. In basic terms, honey bees are acting as the electric storks in the world’s flora.