Honeybee is undeniable tool in the production of agriculture crops; it is the greatest pollinating machine in agriculture. Bees pollinate about one-sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and some 400 of its agricultural plants. Poorly pollinated plants produce fewer often misshapen fruits and lower yields of seeds with inevitable consequences upon quality, availability and price of food.
Honeybees have three different job occupation, workers, queens and drones. Worker bees are all females and they are responsible for collecting nectar from flowers and providing pollination for various plants.
Bees provide essential pollination for flowers that other winged insects cannot do as effectively. Bees collect pollen using a unique technique known as “FLORAL FIDELITY” meaning they only collect from one species of a flower at a time. This helps plants because it ensures the pollen the bee is carrying will be transported to the stigma or female reproductive system of the same plant species. Individual bees will collect from one particular flower species for a few days before changing to a new flower, which why you will not see bees in a small garden with a variety of flowers.
Honeybees are pollinators vital to our food chain. One-third of the food we eat would not be available but for bees. Beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots, hundreds of vegetables, oilseeds and fruits are dependent upon bees for pollination.
Crops like blueberries and cherries are 90% dependent on pollination; Livestock are also dependent upon bee pollinated forage plants such as clove. No human activity or ingenuity could ever replace the work of bees and yet it is largely taken for granted.
Pollination is linked to coexistence in that the honeybee’s needs healthy crops and healthy crops need honey bees.
HOW DO HONEYBEES HELP FARMERS?
One of the few farm activities that can actually increase yields, rather than simply protect existing yields from losses is to manage bees to encourage good pollination. Honeybees are so important that farmers often have bee hives transported and then placed on their farm to provide pollination for their crops.
In fact, the environment of honeybees in the growth of crops is essential for farmers to maintain their livelihood, but it’s also necessary for people to keep enjoying the food they love. That’s why it’s so important to keep their hives healthy and why farmers are so invested in their thriving presence across the world.
Honeybee can visit up to 5000 flowers in a single day, to make one pound of honey, a hive of bees must travel over 55,000 miles and visit 2Million flowers. It takes one colony of honeybees (around 30,000 bees) to pollinate an acre of fruit trees.
Although honeybees aren’t the only bees in the pollination game, nor are they necessarily the most effective. There are more than 20,000 species of bees and 4,000 of those are native to North America. These native pollinators are sometimes actually better pollinators than honey bees, but they are harder to control.
THE TYPES OF BEES
Bumblebees are important pollinators of both crops and wildflowers. Both bumblebees are not useful as honey producers. Bumblebees are increasingly cultured for agriculture use as pollinators, among other reasons because they can pollinate plants such as tomatoes in green houses by buzz pollination whereas other pollinators cannot.
They are commonly referred to as “sweat bees”, as they are often attracted to perspiration thereby landing on people and licking the perspiration from their skin. They are likely to sting only if disturbed. This family of bees engages in a behaviour called sonication or buzz. The bee places the anther in its jaw and vibrates each flower with its flight muscles, causing the pollen to be dislodged. These bees visit between four and eight flowers per minute and significantly carry pollen loads on their hind legs
Carpenter bees get their name due to their ability to borrow into wood and make their brood cell. The male carpenter bee is not aggressive; males are born without stingers, so even if they are provoked they have no form of defense that poses a risk for humans. Females on the other hand, are only aggressive in rare circumstances. The carpenter bees don’t eat woods and they will seek nectar and pollen as a source of food. Like other bees, carpenter bees are important pollinators in native plant communities, gardens, and in some crops. As they visit flowers and feed on nectar, they pick up pollen.
The bees in this family display varying degrees of sociability in their living arrangements; they are common visitors of many prairie wildflowers. These large fuzzy bees are probably the most important pollinators of all. They like to visit the larger composite flowers and long tube-shaped flowers from various families of plants.
Bees are nature’s pollinators and the key to providing the world with many different crops. People should not fear bees (so long as you do not have an allergy) because bees are calm insects that do not wish to harm us and only sting when they feel threatened. If a bee comes around us, then its most likely attracted to the food you have or the smell of the perfume. The best thing to do when bees are around is to remain calm and move away slowly.
Without bee, every part of the world’s ecosystem would decline which is why they are so important to agriculture anything that can be done to enhance the pollination effectiveness of bees will be good for bees, bee keepers and farmers as well.
FACTS ABOUT BEES
- Bees have been producing honey from flowering plants for about 10-20 Million years.
- Honey bees visit 50-100 flowers during each collection trip.
- Honey bees communicate with each other by dancing; they do a dance which alerts other bees where nectar and pollen is located. The dance explains direction and distance.
- About 25,000-100,000 bees are found in a hive depending on the time of the year.
- A bee taps 2 Million flowers to make 454g of honey
- A honey bee flies as fast 24km/hr or 15mph.