The honey bee has been performing its industrious work in the same community system for 40 million years. As recently as 2014 new discoveries were made about its origins. According to these, the honey bee originated in Asia, spreading to Europe and Africa 300,000 years ago. The honey bee species Apis mellifera is now the only one of its kind at our temperate latitude. The bee has been closely linked with the lives of humans for thousands of years. When they settled, beekeeping developed close to settlements. Even then, honey was especially sought after. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all recognised the value of bees, admired them and housed them.
Today the honey bee is the third most important working animal, after cows and pigs, as it pollinates around 80 per cent of our crops and wild plants – from strawberries and raspberries to clover. Its pollination activities ensure we have the diverse range of foods that we know and enjoy.
According to research, of 100 plant species that provide over 90 per cent of human food, 71 are pollinated by bees.
It is impossible to imagine humans living without the honey bee, but the existence of bees has been under threat for years. So we should do everything possible to ensure that they remain protected and healthy while they perform their important and fascinating work.