Durban - Bees are crucial to human survival and with Arbor Week next week, August 31 to September 4, a call has been made to plant bee-friendly indigenous trees.
With the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting the frailty of humans, the need to maintain a healthy global ecosystem has never been more important.
Tessa Lass, ecologist for Candide (a free gardening app), said this week that 90% of the world’s flowering species depended entirely, or in part, on animal pollination, as did 75% of the world’s food crops and more than a third (35%) of agricultural crops.
“Bees are an ecological keystone species and vital for the maintenance of food security and biodiversity. They play an irreplaceable role in ensuring our ecosystems remain healthy and resilient and human well-being is dependent on healthy ecosystems,” said Lass.
She highlighted that while the honey bee was the most well known among bee species, there were 1 300 different species in South Africa alone. There are many “wild bee” species as well as “managed bee” species. They have varying foraging habits and, she warned, where one species may only be attracted to one specific plant, should that species die out, so will the plant and its dependent ecosystem. Other species may be more general and attracted to a number of plants and/or flowers.
This year, the #PolliNationSA
initiative, launched in May by Candide, is a 12-month movement to encourage 100 000 South Africans to become bee protectors which, Lass said, supported Arbor Week’s environmental objectives.
“Arbor Week takes place at the beginning of spring just as bees wake from hibernation and get busy. Bees are powerhouse pollinators. They provide this beautiful pollination which drives and conserves biodiversity and we want to encourage South Africans to plant bee-friendly trees during Arbor Week,” she said.
South Africa has 2 000 indigenous tree species and while Arbor Week focuses on the oldest, largest and most significant, planting indigenous trees will sustain the environment.
The Independent on Saturday