Did you know about one-third of the world’s food depends on pollination? Many of the earth’s plants—about 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of our wild plants—depend on these little heroes. As they buzz from plant to plant, bees are powerful pollinators and play a vital role in the ecosystem, so the next time you find a wildflower, you can thank a busy bee.
The fact that bees are important in the pollination of many species of plants is not new, but the fact that honeybees are becoming indispensable in our agricultural economy may be considered as relatively new.
In tropical Africa, the few wild bees left for pollination are being burnt to death every day.
Their natural abodes in trees are being destroyed.
Insects including bees need forage plants for food, they visit many flowers a day in search of pollen and nectar. Many flowering plants depend upon these insects for the pollen transfer (pollination) as they forage. Adequate insect pollination improves the quality of the crop; uneven, misshaped and small fruits are often indication that pollination has been insufficient.
Among the insects, bees are considered the most efficient pollinators because they have hairy bodies which easily pick up pollen grains as they move about in flowers.
During a single day one bee may visit several hundred flowers. Furthermore, bees are consistent foragers and tend to work one kind of flower at a time.
Bees are known to increase and improve the yields of avocado, coffee, cotton, sunflower, mandarin, onion, papaya, beans, mango, bananas, and many other cash crops.
Bees need our help!
Bee communities, both wild and managed, have been declining over the last half century as pesticide use in agricultural and urban areas increased. Changes in land use have resulted in a patchy distribution of food and nesting resources. Concerned bee researchers recently met to discuss the current pollinator status in North America and to publish a report about it. Since January (2007), there have been a number of reports in the media about the mysterious disappearance of large numbers of honey bees called colony collapse disorder. This has many growers concerned about how they will continue to be able to pollinate their crops. Now more than ever, it is critical to consider practices that will benefit pollinators by providing habitats free of pesticides, full of nectar and pollen resources, and with ample potential nesting resources.