If you’ve been following the news recently, you’ll see that the Duchess of Cambridge is set to have her third child next year. As Kate Middleton may one day become our monarch, lets take a look at another type of queen, and her royal subjects. A recent study showed that over 90% of people had no idea about the bee population, or even get close to guessing how many species of bee there are in the world. Bee populations have a tremendous direct impact on our lives and how we function.
There are over 4000 species of bees in the world, and most of them are surprisingly solitary creatures. The classic image of a bee and its characteristics have been almost solely defined by our knowledge of honeybees—the idea of a central queen bee, the massive hive mind and a completely collaborative community. However honeybees actually only contribute about 14% to the pollination of global crops. This is because honeybees are actually too large or too small to pollinate certain plants, and so that is often left up to the native bees of particular areas.
These bees deviate hugely from our idea of a standard bee; they often live completely alone, they have no queen, they bury their eggs in the ground and in fact, a lot of them do not have stingers. They contribute to the pollination of the larger fruits: tomatoes, apples and watermelons. One of the problems that biologists face with these species is tracking them—they are very difficult to monitor and classify effectively (given their solitude) and it is subsequently difficult to accurately assess the damage that human populations are having on them.
Students thinking about studying Biology should look at how we classify animals, and other species where the sub-classification can be difficult. Students considering Geography should look at how urban populations have had an effect on wildlife and fauna, and what certain initiatives are planning on doing to combat this.