Have you ever heard someone say that bees are responsible for one of every three bites of food you eat? While it’s impossible to calculate exactly the role of bees in food production, it is clear that bees play a vital role.

So what role do bees play in food production? They’re certainly not farmers, right? That’s true. They may not be farmers, but they are excellent pollinators!

Most food crops — including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — must be pollinated. Pollination is the process of transferring tiny pollen cells from one part of a plant to another part, so that the plant can produce seeds.

Pollination is accomplished mainly through insects. Of all the insects that pollinate plants and flowers, bees are by far the most important. Bees play a crucial role in maintaining thriving plant communities.

If you’re wondering why bees are such good pollinators, it’s because they spend most of their lives collecting pollen. For bees, pollen is a primary source of protein that they collect to feed to their young babies.

When bees land on flowers, the hairs on their legs attract pollen cells through a force like static electricity. The bees store some of this pollen to take back to their nests. Other bits of pollen get transferred to other flowers, completing the process of pollination.

Bees are often rewarded by flowers that produce sweet nectar. The nectar of flowers gives bees essential energy and nutrients they need to live their busy lives.

In fact, you’ve probably heard the phrase “busy bee” in the past. That certainly holds true when you think about how bees stay busy visiting plants and flowers in search of pollen.

Did you realize that a bee can visit up to 5,000 flowers in a single day? If you think that’s amazing, consider this: to make one pound of honey, a hive of bees must travel over 55,000 miles and visit two million flowers!

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    • Hi there, Wonder Girl! Thanks so much for being the very first Wonder Friend to visit today’s Wonder of the Day® and leave us a comment! We hope you have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • We think a honey sandwich sounds SUPER yummy, Jocelyn! Thanks for giving us a great idea for a Wonder snack today! :-)

    • We thought that was a REALLY AWESOME fact to learn, too, LKvolleyballGirl! Bees are VERY busy little creatures, aren’t they?

  1. I think that pollination is really cool. I think that bees are pretty cool, too. I can’t believe that they do that. I think that tomorrow’s wonder will be about a magnet. Have a WONDERous day!

    • Thanks for wishing us a WONDERous day, Becca! Your cool comment has helped to make it that way for everyone here in Wonderopolis! We’re happy to hear that you learned some interesting facts about bees today…we did, too! :-)

    • We agree, Zac! Bees must get quite a workout flying from flower to flower! We appreciate all their hard work, though, because they help pollinate our fruit and veggie plants and provide a sweet treat for us to enjoy, too…HONEY! :-)

    • That’s a GREAT guess about tomorrow’s Wonder, Zach! Thanks so much for sharing it and also for letting us know you thought today’s Wonder was cool! We appreciate hearing that! :-)

    • Hello, Lia! We like that guess a lot! We think force and motion would be WONDERful things to WONDER about! Thank you for hanging out in Wonderopolis with us today! You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Hi, Logan! That’s an AWESOME guess for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®! Thank you so much for sharing it with us! We love to hear what our WONDERful Wonder Friends are WONDERing about! :-)

    • We really liked learning about the pollen, too, Sam! It was cool to find out that pollen is protein that gets fed to the baby bees! Thanks for visiting this Wonder of the Day® and leaving us a comment to let us know what you liked about it! :-)

  2. Wowzers! That’s more than 560×495, that will take weeks, or months if they take a rest. Also, I planted sunflowers in the front yard, they have grown as big as my dad and we saw some bees flying around them yesterday.

    • We think it’s SUPER COOL that you planted sunflowers and now you get to see some AWESOME bees buzzing around them, Carlos! We have seen pictures of REALLY big sunflowers before…they’re neat! Thanks for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®! You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I loved today’s wonder! I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about pulling.

    I didn’t leave a comment yesterday because I was too busy.

    Remember back on wonder of the day #619 – Who came to the Boston tea party? I thought wonder of the day #620 was about ice cream and I was really close. Wonder of the day #620 was How do you make a snow cone?

    Guess what? I just got back to Dublin, Ohio from Fort Myers, Florida. It was a bright, beautiful and sunny day in Fort Myers, Florida and in Dublin, Ohio.

    TJ

    • We’re glad you had a nice trip to Florida, TJ! You’re right, too, ice cream and snow cones are really similar! We even learned, from one of our other WONDERful Wonder Friends, that there is a type of snow cone that has ice cream in the bottom! Can you imagine how AWESOME that chilly treat would taste on a summer day? We can’t wait to try one the next time the weather’s super warm here in Wonderopolis! :-)

    • We’re really glad you enjoyed this Wonder so much, Hank! Thanks for letting us know and thanks for telling us you think Wonderopolis rocks! We think your comment ROCKS! :-)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Is it true that bees can pollinate 300 flowers a day or week? I like bees because they make delicious honey. What do you like about bees?

    Your friend,
    Jacky

    • That’s WONDERful, Jacky! Bees can actually visit up to 5,000 flowers in a day! Crazy, huh? We love honey, too! We also like the sound of bees buzzing, because it reminds us of Spring and Summer! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :-)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I liked your story and I learned new things.I would like to come back to your site to learn more and different things.I’m wondering also if you have one on candy and toys.Also, the bees were neat.
    Sincerly,
    Myla

  6. Dear Wonderpolis,

    Can bees help people when they are allergic to pollen? How long have you run Wonderpolis? I like this lesson because I’m allergic to pollen and I think they help my Allergy.

    Your friend,
    Kyle M.

    • Hi, Kyle! We think bees make excellent honey, but we’re not sure if bees can be good for allergies. We’re so glad that you enjoyed this Wonder! By the way, Wonderopolis has been around since October 4, 2010! Can you guess what our first Wonder was about? Keep WONDERing, Wonder Friend! :-)

  7. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I like your bees story. Do bees eat at all if they do please tell me. Do a articles about ice cream or how to make something. How do you make the articles. Do you make thing for you website.

    your friend
    breeanna

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I think those were wonderful facts!
    I have seen bees fly around to
    flowers all around a neighborhood.
    That’s a lot of miles to go to to
    make 1 pound of honey!

    From,
    Kailey

    • That’s a great question, Joshua! I Wonder if that is where we get the saying, “Busy as a bee”. What do you think, Wonder Friend? :-)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Why do bees have a stinger?
    And what do they use it for?
    That is crazy that a bee visits up to 5,000 flowers a day!

    • We agree, Noel! That is a lot of work for one little bee. Also, because they are so little, they have to protect themselves. That is why we think they have stingers. What do you think? Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :-)

    • WONDERful, Ahtziri! We’re glad that this Wonder really piqued your interest! Keep WONDERing, Wonder Friend! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How many flowers can a bee pollinate?
  • What is pollination?
  • Do bees use pollen?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

To make today’s Wonder of the Day the best it can BEE (pun totally intended), check out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Bees sure do stay busy, don’t they? That’s probably where that phrase “busy bee” comes from. If you’ve ever encountered a bee in the wild as it flits back and forth from flower to flower, you’ve probably noticed how difficult it can be to keep up with the bee as it moves. Slow things down a bit when you check out this mesmerizing video of a Bee in Ultra Slow Motion. How cool is that?
  • Ready to test your knowledge of pollination? Check out these fun online activities to learn more about pollination and the creatures that get the job done!
  • Up for a challenge? Did you know that some insects are facing many threats that could lead to a decrease in the number of pollinators available for flowers and crops? This could, in turn, affect the worldwide food supply. Learn more by reading Worldwide Crop Pollination Hurting Due to Loss of Wild Bees online. What do you think can be done to remedy this situation? Do some independent Internet research to see if you can find any articles that describe current efforts to help wild bee populations. Share your findings with your friends and family members.

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Explore Science NetLinks’ Plant Hunter video to take a virtual walk through The New York Botanical Garden, exploring 66 plants from around the globe through photographs, videos and interactive exhibits.

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