We have all learned at some point that many plants, such as fruits and vegetables, require pollination to live and grow. Did you know the importance of bees as pollinating insects? It is estimated that a third of the food we consume every single day relies on the pollination of bee colonies. This means all avocado, asparagus, broccoli, celery, and different kinds of delicious and juicy fruit! We would not be able to live without these kinds of foods. Could you? Even blueberries and especially almonds rely on bees to play an essential role in pollination to grow and develop into the food that we consume on a daily basis.
In addition to contributing to the growth of food crops, bees also produce the delicious treat, honey. Bees also contribute to the meat and dairy industry as well. How is this possible? Bees pollinate the clover and alfalfa that is fed to cattle. There is a huge range of manufactured food products made from all of these ingredients and products. How cool is it to learn the massive impact the tiny bee has on our food system? Here’s the lowdown on how bee health is vital to human and planet health.
Different Types of Bees
You may be surprised to learn that there are over 25,000 species of bees on our planet! You may have heard of the Apidae family—which is often the most commonly known. This family encompasses honeybees, carpenter bees, and bumblebees. With these families, they all serve a specific duty as pollinators in our agricultural world.
There are small but important differences between bee types, such as sizing, the hairs on their legs and more. The stiff hairs on their legs allow them to collect more pollen and efficiently transport between plants. Bumblebees are larger in size than most and tend to be more successful at dispersing pollen onto certain crops due to their vigorous vibrations.
Why Is Pollen Important?
Now that you know why bees are so integral to our everyday lives due to their pollination process, why is pollen itself so important? Here’s the breakdown. Pollen is a fine powdery substance with microscopic grains that are released from the male part of the flower. Within each grain is a male gamete (reproductive cell) that is set to fertilize the female ovule, which leads to pollen being spread through insects, wind, and animals. The pollination process is important because it produces many foods we eat, which will then release seeds that will grow into more plants.
Many people are unaware that flowers contain male parts, which produce pollen. In many ways, pollination can be looked at as the reproduction of plants. If we didn’t have the help from bees, our food would not exist as we know it today. Scary to think about, right?
Interestingly enough, some plants can pollinate themselves or rely on the wind to do it for them, but many plants rely on animals to assist with their pollination process. Bees typically focus on one species of plant at a time—and they are extremely smart by doing so. They have figured out that focusing on one particular species of the same flower in the same outing produces a much higher quantity. What bees eat and collect during pollination greatly contributes to our lives!
In addition to the bees helping the agricultural aspect of our lives, they also beautify the Earth! Bees perpetuate floral growth and provide habitat for other animals like insects and birds.
At Pass the Honey, we believe in sustainable harvesting and ethical honey - these buzzing bugs deserve a huge thanks for providing us with our favorite fruits, veggies, nuts, beautiful flowers, and delish honeycomb.