From: Steve Williams, Care2, More from this Affiliate
Published June 21, 2015 09:55 AM

What is the value of bees?

What are bees worth to our economy? A group of researchers have attempted to do the math, and the result shows exactly why we need to protect our pollinating bees but also why we can’t rely on economic worth alone to make our arguments for saving threatened species.

It may sound slightly abhorrent to put a price on a living creature–and, to an extent, it is. But calculating the monetary worth of wildlife and, in particular, their place in the overall economy has become a useful way for researchers to communicate to governments and even businesses that they need to take a closer look at preventing species die-out. When it comes to bees however, researchers have found an interesting fact that they say shows the worth and the shortcomings of this approach.

Publishing in the journal Nature Communications, researchers detail how they set about this task by following data from nearly 74,000 bees across 780 bee species that was collected as part of over 90 research projects that are investigating the way bees pollinate and interact with crop fields.

What they found was that the bulk of pollination was actually done by just two percent of bee species in the study, and that they contributed up to around 80 percent of the overall pollinating activity.

In total, the researchers calculated that for agricultural security as well as the central task of pollinating crops, wild bees may be worth as much as $3,250 per hectare per year. As the Guardian points out, that’s more than managed honeybee colonies which still account for an impressive but lower $2,913 a hectare.

As the researchers point out, the figure is so attractive that we can’t help but highlight it, but it throws up an important topic: talking purely in terms of economic worth, there appears little reason to preserve the other bee species, and currently many governments focus only on the primary pollinators as part of their environment management strategy.

Macro image of bee via Shutterstock.

Read more at ENN Affiliate, Care2.

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