Bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in crops worldwide each year, with 1 in 3 bites of food directly or indirectly linked to bee pollination.
A third of our food depends on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. The massive loss of bee colonies in recent years is one of the main reasons for concern. Honey bees face threats from disease, climate change and management practices.
The loss of bee colonies in recent years is one of the main reasons for concern. Honey bees face threats from climate change and management practices, but one of the biggest stressors is disease. Specifically, a mite called Varroa.
Honey bees live in hives where viruses can spread quickly. A queen rules the entire hive. Worker bees are all female and are the only bees most people ever see flying outside the hive. They forage for food, build honeycombs, and protect the hive.
Male bees are the third class of honey bees. Several hundred male bees live in each hive during the spring and summer, but are kicked out for the winter months when the hive goes into survival mode.
When you think of bees, you think of the honey they produce, but experts say it’s one of the least important things they produce. Honeybees also provide a valuable service by pollinating flowers, helping the reproduction of wildflowers and helping farms produce better crops.
Amy Wu, UF/IFAS State Specialist Program Development Representative in Beekeeping, tells us:
“Bees are so important to our agriculture and to the foods we see in grocery stores.”
Many common crops require pollination to not only produce fruit but also improve its quality. So if you have honey beehives nearby, you are more likely to have better fruit.