Pollination is necessary for flowers to develop seeds. It’s the process of transferring pollen from the stamen (male part) of a flower to its stigma (female part). Most plants are not self-pollinating. They require help from bees, who visit flowers for nectar and pollen. While bees are foraging for food among flowers, they are pollinating the plants, which begins seed production and leads to delicious fruits and vegetables.
It is estimated that honey bees are the most important of all the food pollinators. They are responsible for the pollination of more than 70% of the world’s most widely consumed crops, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. In fact, honey bees are responsible, either directly or indirectly, for one out of every three bites of food we eat.
Most everyone knows that bees pollinate almonds and avocados, but did you know that bees are to thank for these five foods?
- Onions- Onion nectar is high in potassium, which means onions are not at the top of bees “favorite” plants to visit, but honey bees are important in helping fertilize onion plants through pollination.
- Cherries- Sweet cherry tree pollination is done primarily through honey bees. Most cherry trees require cross-pollination, which is when a flower is pollinated by the pollen from another flower or plant. Honey bees are needed to get the pollen from one cherry tree to another.
- Pomegranates- Pomegranate seeds are packed with antioxidants but these plants don’t generate seeds without pollination. Pomegranate trees don’t require cross-pollination, but they do need the help from honey bees to get their pollen to the right part of the plant.
- Coffee- Coffee nectar contains low doses of caffeine, so bees really love to drink coffee nectar and get energized. Coffee plants can self-pollinate in some instances, but they produce more than 50% more coffee beans when honey bees fuel up on their nectar and help with the pollination.
- Vanilla- chocolate is solely pollinated by tiny insects called midget flies, but vanilla is pollinated exclusively by bees. Vanilla plants have a flap of plant tissue that separates the stamen from the stigma, so bees are absolutely essential for vanilla pollination.
Our planet is so fortunate to be populated by Honey bees, but the scary news is: honey bees are in danger. They have been facing unprecedented die-offs in recent years. In the past year alone, commercial beekeepers have reported losing 44% of their bees. Climate change, pesticides, parasites and industrial agriculture are all thought to be contributing factors to these die-offs, but more research is needed to understand what the true cause may be. To learn what you can do to help save the bees, go to SAVEtheBEE.org.
ABOUT SAVE THE BEE
Led by honey and natural ingredient company GloryBee, Save the Bee is a partnership of businesses, consumers and researchers committed to supporting hive health in the face of declining bee populations. Beyond honey, bees fertilize food crops and plants, including most common produce and many nuts. By driving awareness, funding research into both cause and solution, and educating beekeepers, Save the Bee aims to end the crisis of declining bee populations. Together, we can Save the Bee!