The Honey Bees’ Second Shift
In addition to gathering nectar to produce honey, honey bees perform a vital second function – pollination, making them a critical component of today’s agricultural market. In fact, about one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants, and honey bees are responsible for 80 percent of this pollination.
Pollination is the fertilization of a flowering plant. Pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from the anthers of a flower to the ovules of that or another flower. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts such as almonds.
Without the honey bees’ pollination work, the quantity and quality of many crops would be reduced and some would not yield at all. According to a 2000 Cornell University study, the increased yield and quality of agricultural crops as a result of honey bee pollination is valued at more than $14.6 billion per year. And although other insects can pollinate plants, honey bees are premier pollinators because they are available throughout the growing season and pollinate a wide range of crops.