One clover, and a bee,
The story of the bee is closely entwined with that of the flowering plant world. Splitting off from their wasp ancestors around 100 million years ago, bees and flowering plants arose together - as bees developed a new taste for sweet nectars and pollen produced by flowers, flowering plants began to diversify and flourish. In return for their sweet floral offerings, bees provided these plants with pollination services, successfully transferring genetic material from plant to plant that led to rapid speciation and diversification.
This exquisite coevolution has given rise to much of the beauty and splendour - the scents, colours and shapes - of the flowering world that we enjoy today. It has also provided us with many of our favourite fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, fibres, spices and medicines. In fact bees pollinate one or more cultivars of over 66% of all crop species and contribute to one third of the food we eat. Indeed a world without bees would be a world without berries, coffee, tea, chocolate and cotton!It is awe-inspiring to think that one small creature can have had such an influence on the course of Earth's natural history. Bees are a litmus paper – the proverbial ‘canary-in-the-coalmine’ - for the health of the planet: when all is right with the bees, all is right with the world.