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  • I know, insects, it's really weird,

  • but bear with me.

  • Now, I am an entomologist.

  • I confess to that.

  • And, when I look at the planet,

  • the reason I'm an entomologist

  • is because out of the 1.9 million species

  • that are described on planet Earth,

  • over 1 million of them are insects.

  • And I truly believe as a scientist today

  • we live in the best of times

  • because here we are enjoying TED,

  • and Facebook,

  • and YouTube,

  • and this wonderful theater,

  • healthcare,

  • longer life spans.

  • But we also live in the worst of times

  • because we are on a planet with 7 billion people

  • with a lot of problems.

  • And for those of us who look at biodiversity,

  • it's a heart-wrenching and wonderful time all together

  • because we see the links between nature and people,

  • and we're losing them at the same time.

  • Both honeybees and humans originate in East Africa.

  • And, here in Kenya, a wonderful relationship exists

  • where a bird called a honeyguide, up there,

  • has this interesting phenomenon

  • where it actually leads either humans,

  • which it's done for thousands of years,

  • 77,000 year old paintings from Tanzania,

  • and the honey badger

  • to the wild honeybee colony.

  • Now, for a long time we thought this relationship

  • first evolved between the honeyguide

  • and the honey badger.

  • But it turns out that it actually evolved

  • between the human and the honeyguide,

  • and the badger's a parasite.

  • Now, when we look at bees,

  • there is this amazing diversity out there,

  • 20,000 species.

  • And one in three bites of food that we eat

  • is thanks to an insect pollinator.

  • So one of the things I'm working on

  • is looking at those links

  • between nature and sustainable human life.

  • And here are just a few of the beautiful bees

  • that we have in Kenya,

  • in fact, not far from Nairobi.

  • Now, how many of you like coffee?

  • Yeah, I actually can't drink it

  • because if I do, my hands shake,

  • and I can't pick up ants and bees.

  • Chocolate?

  • I love chocolate, the darker the better,

  • so I really like chocolate.

  • Now the thing is, without insect pollinators,

  • there would be very little coffee

  • and no chocolate on the planet.

  • Could you imagine that?

  • That's really scary!

  • Now, I want to show you

  • out of thousands of examples

  • that I could have brought here today

  • to show you how insects are connected to your life,

  • to every single human being on the planet.

  • Here are two colleagues and friends.

  • Domina is a farmer in Mwanza

  • in western Tanzania,

  • and Peter is from the Kerio Valley

  • in northwestern Kenya.

  • Now, Domina grows pigeon feed, cow feed,

  • a whole wide range of legumes.

  • And she feeds her family,

  • she survives in a very remote area

  • based off of these amazing crops,

  • legumes, a lot of traditional vegetables,

  • and all of them are pollinated

  • by these different wild bee species.

  • Now, Peter grows five varieties of mango on his farm,

  • and he actually paid for his education

  • by growing and selling mangoes.

  • And I really like mangoes

  • and so it's really a great pleasure working on the farm

  • with five different varieties of mango.

  • And if you look at all these different fruits and crops here,

  • one thing that connects us to biodiversity

  • and one thing we do as a scientist,

  • we write papers.

  • We do research, and we write papers.

  • Nobody ever reads them,

  • but here's one of my papers.

  • It's on the African violet.

  • This is in the U.S.

  • This florist sells about 10,000 dollars worth

  • of violets a year.

  • It's worth about 6 billion dollars in trade.

  • It originates in East Africa,

  • and we never knew what pollinated it.

  • Well, I went off and studied this.

  • One thing to say about pollinators

  • is it comes done to being about sex.

  • And how many of you like sex?

  • Where are we, the Vatican?

  • So what happens when insects help plants have sex

  • is there's really good sex.

  • This is an example of really good sex.

  • So basically the bee comes along,

  • it vibrates the flower

  • at a specific frequency, 11 to 12 hertz,

  • pollen is released,

  • and the plant survives in the wild.

  • This is one of the world's most endangered plants.

  • We go up into the deserts of northern Kenya,

  • which are now very famous

  • because of the discovery of oil.

  • But I will tell you a little different story.

  • These animals, the camel,

  • which allow life in this very remote community,

  • are browsing off of a shrub called indigofera,

  • and indigofera is 100% dependent on bee pollination.

  • So all these wild bees produce the indigofera,

  • which the camels and goats eat.

  • And we look at a community like this,

  • Nalaray, northern Samburu,

  • and people will look at these children

  • and say they are poor.

  • And I disagree

  • because over lunch we collected 30 different bee species

  • in the Acacia where they had their lunch

  • and 400 pollinator species in the Acacia tortilis

  • where their classroom is located.

  • So I want to leave you with a radical piece of technology

  • called the bee hotel

  • that you can innovate and build for yourself.

  • Create a habitat where bees can nest and live

  • in your own backyard.

  • But more importantly, please create space

  • in your hearts for insects.

  • Spend five minutes a day with them if you can.

  • And I believe that if the one lesson

  • we can learn from insects

  • is that meek shall inherit the Earth.

I know, insects, it's really weird,

Subtitles and keywords

B1 INT bee kenya badger sex chocolate planet

【TED-Ed】The human and the honeybee - Dino Martins

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    Kevin Tan   posted on 2014/08/13
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