Queen of Agriculture
Honey Bees are crop specific pollinators
Honey Bees Are Pollinators
Honey bees contribute nearly $20 billion to the value of U.S. crop production. This contribution, made by managed honey bees, comes in the form of increased yields and superior quality crops for growers and American consumers. A healthy beekeeping industry is invaluable to a healthy U.S. agricultural economy.
Many of the country's crops would not exist without the honey bee at bloom time. Crop yield and quality would be greatly reduced without honey bee pollination.
As honey bees gather pollen and nectar for their survival, they pollinate crops such as apples, cranberries, melons and broccoli. Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90-percent dependent on honey bee pollination. One crop, almonds, depends entirely on the honey bee for pollination at bloom time.
Each year, American farmers and growers continue to feed more people using less land. They produce an abundance of food that is nutritious and safe. Honey bees are very much a part of this modern agricultural success story. It's estimated that there are about 2.7 million bee colonies in the U.S. today, two-thirds of which travel the country each year pollinating crops and producing honey and beeswax. The California almond industry requires approximately 1.8 million colonies of honey bees in order to adequately pollinate nearly one million acres of bearing almond orchards.
Bees can be classified by the range of plants they visit for nectar or pollen. So-called polylectic species are the most generalist, gathering pollen from multiple genera in more than one plant family. This is in contrast to oligolectic species, which gather pollen from two to several species in one plant family. Monolectic species have the most restricted floral requirements, feeding on only a single plant species, even when other species in the same genus are present.