We rely on them for a third of our food, including almonds, apples, avocados and cucumbers. They underpin livelihoods in the UAE and far beyond. And yet bees – without whom our very survival would be seriously threatened – are increasingly endangered.
Fuelled by the onset of climate change and industrial pesticide use, bee populations are said to be decreasing. In the US alone, the number of bee hives has halved to 3 million since 1947.
As such, any attempt to foster a beekeeping culture, increase bee numbers and highlight the vital role that bees and other pollinators play in the global ecosystem is worthy of praise.
Today, the UAE can boast such a scheme. As The National reported, residents of Dubai's Sustainable City, are purchasing bee hives in the Hatta mountains, from which they will receive 10 kilograms of honey a year.
For these residents, the decision is clear. Not only will they receive local honey – they will also be contributing towards a vital environmental cause. It behoves us all to follow in their footsteps to help protect these extraordinary insects.
Beyond their role in producing the food that we eat, bees provide a livelihood to millions of people worldwide. They have aided and inspired science and engineering, make for a fascinating study in social cohesion and co-operation and they can teach us a great deal about the health of our wider environment.
On a more profound level, bees have produced honey from flowering plants for between 10 and 20 million years. Their eradication would be an tragic indictment of the manner with which we have used this planet.
And there is still time to save them. Farmers should be encouraged to install hives on their land, particularly as bees could help increase their yields. Urban gardeners should support bees by planting flowers. All of us should refrain from using pesticides during the day, when bees are pollinating.
It is hard to overstate how integral bees are to our own survival and the wider ecological environment. We simply cannot allow them to become extinct on our watch.