Honey Bee Pollination
Honey bees don’t just produce wax and honey – they are extremely valuable pollinators of many agricultural crops. Honey bees are not native to the U.S. – they originally came from Europe and were brought over by early colonists. The list of crops that are pollinated by honey bees is endless – fruits, berries, nuts, clovers, alfalfa, canola, squash, melons, peppers and many more. Alfalfa is an important forage crop in the U.S. Honey bee colonies have long been managed by beekeepers to provide pollination services for crops as well as for honey production.
Honey bee populations have been in decline in recent years. According to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, there has been a loss of about one third of honey bee hives in beekeeping operations across the United States. Recent studies suggest that these declines have been caused by the combination of several factors which may include infectious pathogens, malnutrition, stress, and pesticides.
Most recently, beekeepers have been striving to reduce pesticide use near hives and investing more in food supplies for their bees. Planting flowers that produce pollen and nectar, especially during the weeks when crops are not blooming, help to provide nutrition to honey bees throughout the entire season. With enhanced nutrition and health, honey bees will be better equipped to fend off disease, pathogens, and the effects of stress.