Picture a barren Earth in which fruits, vegetables, and grains are scarce. Think of the need for food rationing, the lack of abundance, the change in the ecosystem… It wouldn’t be much of an Earth at all. This is what our home planet would become without its steadily buzzing live givers: honeybees—the most important pollinators.
So what do bees do? How do they pollinate?
Well, bees feed on nectar for their carbohydrate needs and feed on pollen for the protein and fat needs. This makes them move pollen from plant to plant, which allows reproduction to take place. This process of pollination is super important, and without it, the plants won’t survive. People are even paid to pollinate by hand in some parts of the world where they have no bees.
It’s not uncommon to practice hand pollination with a paint brush or even a vibrator—sometimes used by tomato farmers to pollinate their plants as the pollen is securely held in the male flower of the tomato plant. Such tomato farmers also populate their farms to pollinate using the pollen that releases from the flower after the vibration.
Here's a list of crops that simply wouldn't survive without bees
Bees are unique little beings, social and living in complex colonies. The colony of the honeybees is comprised of 40-50k bees and exhibits mind-blowing social behavior: even forms of social healthcare and hygiene. They even naturally disinfect their hives by gathering resin from plants called propolis—a natural disinfectant—and bringing it back to their hive. Humans have been harvesting this propolis for ages!
Honeybees have many different types, and each have traits designed to pollinate certain types of plants. For instance, our bees at honeypot farms are suited perfectly for the blueberry plant. Early bumble bees are small and agile, perfect for a drooping flower like the comfrey. Garden flowers, on the other hand, pollinate flowers that are deeper as their tongue is longer and can reach, such as the honeysuckle. Some farmers rely on a combination of bees to pollinate their plants; while honeybees are capable, it’s situational. For instance, the red mason bee is far more efficient at pollinating apple blossoms than the honeybee.
Bees are Dying
Recently, honeybees have been dying at alarming rates. According to Maria Spivak, this concern boils down to these 2 main causes: a Flowerless Landscape and a Dysfunctional Food System. In the US, bees have been in decline since WWII; we have half the managed hives we had in 1945.
We stopped planting cover crops like clover and alfalfa and started using synthetic fertilizers instead while beginning to also use herbicides to grow crops larger and larger. We have been focusing on the same cash crops more and more and neglecting the flowering plants that bees need to eat.
Not only are our bees dying, but we are planting more and more crops that need them worldwide. There’s been a 300% increase in crops that need bee pollination worldwide—so we need them more than ever.
Every batch of pollen has at least 6 detectable pesticide in it. A bee dose can consume a high dose of a neurotoxin from these pesticides and die, or a small dose and become disoriented and lost. Some are also affected due to parasites or viruses from such pesticides.
Living in a food dessert makes consuming a high dose quite likely for bees in nature, as Earth's perfect pollinators are underfed.
How You Can Help
Here are a few simple steps you can use to make a difference.
- Plant bee friendly flowers
- Don’t contaminate them with pesticides
- Think carefully about diversifying farms and planting cover crops
- Give back with Honey Pot farms