Importance of Bees

Bees are essential for the health of people and the planet. Honey and other products have medicinal properties, and the role of bees as pollinators makes them vital for food supplies.

There are around 20,000 known bee species worldwide, and over 4,000 are native to the United States. Humans only manage a few of these, and most species are wild.

As well as valuing bees for their honey, people have come to recognize the importance of bees in promoting food security and variety in plants and animals.

However, a rise in factors, such as pesticide use and urbanization, means that bees are currently in decline, negatively affecting many of the Earth’s ecosystems.

A loss of bees would affect honey supplies, but, more importantly, world food security and biodiversity. Without them, the world could be a very different place.

Why are bees important?

Bees are significant for many reasons. They have historical importance, contribute to human health, and play a role in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Health products

Not all bees produce honey, but it is one of the main reasons people value them. The substance is a natural sweetener with many potential health qualities.

People have used bees and bee-related products for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Researchers have noted claims that it has antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.

In traditional medicine, people use honey when treating a wide variety of conditions. While many of these uses do not have scientific backing, they include:

  • Eye diseases
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Throat infections
  • Tuberculosis
  • Thirst
  • Hiccups
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Hepatitis
  • Constipation
  • Worm infestation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Eczema
  • Ulcers
  • Wounds

Beeswax is another important product that people have previously used in waterproofing and fuel. It currently has benefits for health and features in a number of skincare products. Additionally, pharmaceutical industries use it in ointments.

Other bee products that can benefit human health include:

  • Propolis, a resin that bees create
  • Bee bread
  • Bee pollen
  • Royal jelly
  • Beeswax
  • Bee venom

In a 2020 study, scientists found evidence that melting, a component in honeybee venom could kill cancer cells.

Learn more about the benefits of honey.


In recent years, it has become clear that honey may not be the most important reason to protect bees. This is because bees play a crucial role in pollination, where they use the hairs on their bodies to carry large grains of pollen between plants.

Around 75% of crops produce better yields if animals help them pollinate. Of all animals, bees are the most dominant pollinators of wild and crop plants. In other words, bees are essential for the growth of many plants, including food crops.

Historical importance

People have been working with bees around the world for millennia. The significance comes from the direct harvesting of honey and beeswax and cultural beliefs.

For example, the Ancient Greeks thought of bees as a symbol of immortality. In the 19th century, beekeepers in New England would inform their bees of any major events in human society. Meanwhile, native northern Australians used beeswax when producing rock art.

For history experts, bee products are a key aspect of archaeology. This is because beeswax produces a “chemical fingerprint” that people can assess to identify components in organic residue.

Society and the environment

Bees are very intelligent, and people have applied knowledge of their mannerisms and social interactions when creating human initiatives.

For example, researchers have suggested that studying the actions of bees could help experts develop emergency plans to evacuate people from an overcrowded environment.

Observing honeybee dances can also help scientists understands where changes are taking place in the environment.

How does this affect humans?

Farming practices, global warming, and disease are just a few reasons why bee numbers are declining. Experts are concerned about the impact on world food supplies, especially fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

They say that without bees, there will be no more nuts, coffee, cocoa, tomatoes, apples, or almonds, to name a few crops. This could lead to nutritional deficiencies in the human diet, as these products are essential sources of vital nutrients.

Additionally, the emerging medicinal properties of bee venom and other bee products may never be accessible without bees to provide them.

What can you do to help?

Green backyards and gardens can be vital resources for bees. Growing native flowers and leaving weeds to develop can contribute to bee health and numbers by providing food and shelter. Reducing landscaping activities, such as mowing or pruning, can help bees by increasing the amount of vegetation available.

According to a 2019 study, as well as benefitting the bees, increasing rural spaces in urban areas can boost human mental and emotional well-being.

Nonscientists and volunteers can contribute to research through citizen science initiatives, where people report what they see in their local area. This can help experts understand what is happening in a particular area or country.

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