Bees – Importance
Ambience: , bee hive
I recently joined the ranks of beekeepers and am looking forward to a good honey harvest this month. But honeybees represent a lot more than just a source of honey. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Fell: The importance of honeybees extends far beyond their production of honey and beeswax. And if we look at the value of a colony, we estimate that it’s contributions, are 30 to 40 times in pollination value what they would ever produce in honey or wax.
Entomologist Rick Fell.
Fell: There are a number of crops that are dependent upon bees for pollination many of the common fruits and vegetables you consume, for example. Apples apple trees, in general require insect pollination, and, of course, bees are the major pollinator, not only honeybees, but other bee species as well. Almonds, which is a tremendous high-value crop in California, is dependent upon bees for pollination.
There are a number of other bee species that provide pollination benefits. We’ve looked at other bee species and found that they contribute quite a bit to pollination. However, the advantage of the honeybee is, one, that we can keep them in colonies, we can manage them, and we can move colonies to locations where they’re needed.
It’s much more difficult to try and do that sort of thing with other bee species. So, the ability to move, say, colonies into an almond orchard, leave those colonies, in the orchard during the pollination period, and then remove them provides a tremendous advantage for the grower.
Very few large growers, in particular, have their own bee colonies. Mostly what they do is they arrange with beekeepers, set up a contract to bring in colonies during the pollination period. So, they’ll call a beekeeper, say “I need a hundred colonies.” The beekeeper brings in those colonies, distributes them in the orchard, and then, at the end of the bloom, the beekeeper removes those colonies.
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