While most of us think bees are a nuisance, they are an important part of our ecosystem and vital to our food production. Bees make it possible for many of your favorite foods to reach your table. From apples to pumpkins, bees are important for cross pollination that helps plants produce fruit.
Almost 90% of plant species rely on pollinators to reproduce. Everything from fruits to vegetables (or anything with seeds on the inside) requires pollination to grow.
Pollinators help plants survive and plants: planetbee.org
- Produce one-third of our food supply by giving us countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts
- Provide one-half of the world’s oils, fibers (such as the cotton used to make clothes), and other raw materials
- Are used to create many medicines
- Provide food and cover for wildlife
- Keep waterways clean
- Prevent soil erosion
- Produce the oxygen we breathe
- Absorb CO2, counteracting global climate change
Globally, pollinators are responsible for pollinating more than 1,200 crops. Eighty-seven of the leading 115 food crops, or about 75%, depend on pollinators. Every year, pollinators contribute more than $217 billion to the global economy, and $24 billion to the US economy. If we consider the indirect products of plants, such as milk and beef from cows fed on alfalfa, the value of pollinator services in the US would increase to an incredible $40 billion.
- There are 4,000 different bee species native to North America
- Species vary widely from cuckoo bees to bumble bees
- Some bees are smaller than one-eight inch to more than one inch long
- Their color ranges from metallic green or blue to dark brown or black to striped red or orange
Significance of Honey Bees
- They are the most numerous and efficient pollinator species in the world
- They can visit more than 2000 flowers in one day, increasing the chances of a plant producing a fruit or vegetable
- Honey bees are the most commonly used species for commercial pollinators in the US
- Honeybees also pollinate wild and native plants
Causes of Colony Collapse nrdc.org
- Bee colonies have been disappearing since 2006 in the US
- Nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the US have vanished
- Parasites such as varroa mites, which bite bees and infect them with fatal viruses have contributed to the decline
- Pesticide use
- Monoculture farming, which prevents them from having a varied diet
- Global warming
- Habitat loss
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