Honey Bee Pollination Services
Provide Flowers For Honey Bees To Keep Them On The Job
Honey bees don’t just produce wax and honey – they provide valuable crop pollination services for many agricultural crops. Honey bees are not native to the U.S. – they originally came from Europe and were brought over by early colonists. Honey bee colonies have long been managed by beekeepers to provide honey bee pollination services for crops as well as for honey production. The list of crops that benefit from honey bee pollination is endless – alfalfa, almonds, apples, berries, canola, clovers, peaches, peppers, squash, sunflower oil, watermelons and many more. Alfalfa is an important forage crop for livestock in the U.S., and our meals would be pretty boring without the delicious fruits and vegetables that honey bees pollinate.
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 and crop producers have been working together to reduce pesticide use near hives and plant supplemental flowers for honey bees. In agricultural systems, the best flowers for bees produce pollen and nectar during the weeks when crops are not blooming. This lessens competition for crop flowers and provides nutrition to honey bees throughout the rest of the season when crops are not blooming. With enhanced nutrition and health, honey bees will be better equipped to fend off disease, pathogens, and the effects of stress. This results in better crop yields from honey bee pollination services. Some recommended flowers and flower mixes specially formulated with flowers that attract honey bees are shown in the sidebar.