Articles

To be(e) or not to be(e)

Ana Sampaio, Diogo Marques , João Cunha, Nelson Martins, Nikolina Matić, Matija Lokaz, Milan Samardžić and Milena Sagova, 15-18 years old | International Collaboration | Portugal-Montenegro

Einstein is believed to have once said: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man”. Based on this statement of Einstein, YRE from the two schools, joined forces and designed a strategy, to find out more.

Some of us like honey, some do not. Eitherway, we may ask ourselves, what makes honey the only product without an “expiring date”. Maybe this is a great topic for some scientific researches. The question, which YRE of Montenegro and Portugal, wanted to answer is, if we really know how the bees and their life/existence on Earth affects us humans and our life/existence?

Einstein is believed to have once said: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”. Based on this statement of Einstein, YRE from the two schools, joined forces and designed a strategy, to find out more.

Meetings at distance were held, questionnaire (with 10 questions) was jointly developed and applied to a sample of 110 individuals from both countries (including pupils, teachers and other people belonging or not belonging to the school community). To find more, were interviewed beekeepers from Morinj (Montenegro), Žika Čvorović and (Portugal), Carla Rodrigues. Thanks to the collaborative work it was possible to draw some conclusions:

“The number of bees worldwide is…? “, 68.5% of the respondentes consider that it is decreasing. This perception is shared by the interviewed beekeepers.

Informing, teaching and involving is necessary and urgent. Bees are fundamental for the global ecosystem, because very few plants have the capacity to self-pollinate. The pollinators are bees and butterflies, and if there are no pollinators there is no fertilization of plants – consequently this produces an imbalance in the ecosystem.

When asked if bees are endangered and what their main threats are, which corresponds to question 3 and 4, the results raise questions and suggest the need to act. If the majority consider that bees are threatened, when it comes to the causes, the answers are not consensual. This is because there are many causes which vary from area to area.

In Portugal fires are the main cause of the reduction of bee population/colonies, especially the reduction of undergrowth, with wild flowers, excessive use of pesticides and herbicides, but the practice of monoculture agriculture and the existence of predators such as the Asian wasp and habitat degradation, too. In Montenegro (as the beekeeper explained) fewer and fewer people are engaged in beekeeping and bees are undergraded.

People on the streets and those in the school didn’t answer the same. Some cared about bees and thought about the ways to save them, while some didn’t care about the fact that they are undergraded, some even wanted them to disappear.

When asked about “some actions that could minimize threats to bees “, the answers were very similar. The realization of this work corresponds to what 29% of respondents answered – to explain people the importance of bees in/for the global ecosystem. This is one of the main objectives of this project – together with learning and teaching each other – for a more sustainable future.

6.Why do people use pesticides, if they harm bees?
The result shows that we have a long way to go in protecting biodiversity. It is urgent to teach, alert and involve everyone. It is necessary to inform and to clarify. We can not allow irreversible, what the both interviewed beekeepers claimed, too – according to the Portuguese beekeeper “money talks louder than bees“, while according to the Montenegrin beekeeper “the herbicides/pesticides and the air pollution are the main causes for the possible and progressive plague of bees – not only in Montenegro but worldwide, too” . This is why this project is important. Inform more, involve more.

Question number 7. “Why is the number of people engaged in beekeeping decreasing?” 
There were several answers. The decrease in the population dedicated to agricultural activities, as well as thinking of beekeeping as being a physically demanding work, are important reasons. Honey production depends indeed a lot on weather conditions, thus there are bad years for honey production in both countriesThe number of traditional beekeepers in Portugal is decreasing, contrary to the number of colonies. Professional beekeepers increased, but the number of bees is decreasing, while in Montenegro the number of beekeepers and beekeepers associations is progressively increasing due to the potential, that the beekeeping in Montenegro has.

When thinking about reasons that justify the importance of bees in economic terms, the conclusion is, they are not just producing honey and other products (such as beeswax and others that are the basis of cosmetic applications), but also are responsible for 78% of the wild flora, which depends on pollinators, while 84% of crops depend on pollinators. Thus, agricultural and cattle production depends on pollinators, such as bees.

There are many reasons for the importance of bees in the balance of the ecosystem: bees are mainly responsible for pollination. Few plant species are able to pollinate themselves. Without these species what we consume directlyor indirectly disappears – like fruit and grain for us and animal feed. The food chain ceases to exist, we would have nothing to eat. The world as we know it would cease to exist.

The last questioin in the questionnaire is about that what Einstein said of bees and human existance. 68.2% of respondents agreed with the statement. The rest said no or I don’t have idea.

It is not a bad thing that many are unaware of this statement. That is why we are here. We are all needed for the ecosystem to function. Bees are important.

Now that you know, do your part and contribute. We hope that our study/work shows people the importance of bees and how to preserve them.

Since without bees there wouldn’t be us neither.

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