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These 3 Bees Are Crucial to Agriculture

These 3 Bees Are Crucial to Agriculture

Celebrate World Bee Day by learning about the three kinds of bees that support the agriculture industry.

By Haley Bilokraly
Farms.com Intern

Happy World Bee Day, Farmers!

Saturday, May 20, 2023, farmers around the world will be celebrating one of agriculture’s best friends: bees with World Bee Day.

These hard-working insects are responsible for pollinating many crops like alfalfa, flax, canola, sunflowers, beets, apples, garlic, lettuce, watermelon, sweet potatoes, and so many more. In fact, it is estimated that 75-90% of all crops require pollination.

In North America, there are 3 main bee types that significantly impact agriculture.

Bumblebees

Bumblebees are native to North American and are considered to be the most important group of pollinators. They gather nectar and pollen from a large variety of flowers which means they are flexible to changes in their environment.

The most common use for bumblebees, aside from their natural pollination habits, is with vegetable producers who bring them into their greenhouses for supplemental pollination.

Honeybees

Arguably the most well-known bee, honeybees are well loved in North America. Whether it is their honey production or crop pollination these popular pollinators are essential for the agriculture industry.

Honeybees are not native to North America, but their presence continues to positively increase. As of 2021, there are approximately 3.52 million honey producing colonies across the United States and Canada.

Aside from honey production, honeybees are used for pollinating crops such as canola. The pollination from these bees increases both yield and quality of the crop.

Leaf Cutting Bees

Similarly, to honeybees, leaf cutting bees are excellent pollinators. Their function is especially important when it comes to alfalfa seeds as honeybees have a difficult time pollinating this flower.

When a bee lands on an alfalfa flower, the petals are “tripped” and will smack the bee. Although this bothers honeybees, leaf cutting bees are small enough to avoid tripping the flower. This makes leaf cutting bees very effective for alfalfa, a crop valued at $40 million in Canada.

On top of alfalfa, leaf cutting bees are useful for other fruits and vegetables such as blueberries and carrots.

So, whether it is honey production or crop pollination, these flying friends are responsible for keeping your tea sweet and your fields strong. Consider planting some extra wildflowers in your farmyard this season to keep the bees happy and your fields pollinated!


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