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!