20 de Maio de 2022 / Preservation
The Honeybee

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May 20th is World Bee Day, a date created to remind us of the importance of this little insect on which our well-being largely depends.  

In Portugal there are more than five hundred different species of bees, among the more than twenty thousand known worldwide. They are considered pollination champions, i.e. they are specialists in promoting the transfer of pollen from the structures of the flower's male reproductive organs, the stamens, to the female reproductive organs, the stigma. This process is essential for all of us, since foods such as oranges, apples, strawberries, carrots, onions, watermelons, and even coffee depend on it. In fact, one third of the food that reaches our table is the result of the action of pollinators, not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality. 

But why are bees so good at pollinating? The bee goes from flower to flower looking for nectar to feed on. In the process, the pollen grains get stuck to its "furry suit". When it moves on to the next plant, the bee carries these grains with it, and they eventually come loose, resulting in the fertilization of the egg cell of that plant, or in other words, pollination. But there is not only one bee dedicated to this process! The same is multiplied by tens of thousands of bees that make up a colony, and are warned by the others, through dances and buzzing, the location of flowers, thus ensuring that more bees will be involved in pollination.  

Although the honey bee is one of the most important promoters of pollination, butterflies, flies, bumblebees, wasps, ants, and beetles are other important pollinators, without which life on Earth would be very different. 

S.O.S. pollinators  

There are many threats to which pollinators are exposed. Among them are demographic growth that promotes the destruction of their natural habitat, the use of pesticides, the introduction of invasive species, and climate change. The increasing changes in climate, with longer periods of extreme temperatures, are reflected in the balance of ecosystems. Water scarcity or out-of-season blooms are some examples, which do not allow pollinators to survive, or make their pollinating function less effective. 

Let's make a difference! 

Flowers and more flowers are the key words in safeguarding pollinators. You don't need much space. A balcony, a windowsill, are enough to create a small garden where pollinators can rest and feed. Ideally, you should choose flowers of different colors, shapes, and blooming seasons to create the ideal situation for a larger number of pollinators.  
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