While I was on the #FarmFoodTour I had the incredible opportunity to learn from a beekeeper just how important bees really are for everyone. Over the years, the beekeeping industry has become a very valuable chain. The need for pollination has increased drastically over the past few years. In the U.S., 1/3 of of the agriculture depends on pollinators. Pollinators give $24 billion to the U.S. economy. Commercial beekeepers are critical for growing crops, especially California almonds.
There are three different types of beekeepers: hobbyist beekeepers, sideliner beekeepers, and commercial beekeepers. What exactly are the jobs of these beekeepers? Hobbyist beekeepers have several hives and usually keep the bees for recreation as opposed to commercial use, sideliner beekeepers have a smaller commercial focus with a colony of around 50-500 hives, and commercial beekeepers have thousands of colonies and offer pollination services.
Why Honey Bees?
Honey bees are extremely important for our environment. About 1/3 of the food that you eat is a result of honey bees. Their process of visiting a flower, picking up pollen, and pollinating other flowers causes a seed to be fertilized. This process of fertilization produces fruits, nuts, vegetables, and berries.
Colonies of honey bees pollinate tons of vegetable/canola seed crops. Without the bees, companies wouldn’t be able to grow crops.
Threats to the Honey Bees
There are many threats that can cause harm to honey bees. One of the biggest issues that these creatures are susceptible to are Varroa mites which are an external parasite. Another issue is the loss of natural flower nutrition for commercial beekeepers. Bees can also pick up toxins from environments that they visit while pollinating which can be brought back to their hives.
The Honey Bee Health Coalition
If you’re interested in protecting and helping the honey bees, join the Honey Bee Health Coalition. Founded by the Keystone Center, this coalition has created the first Honey Bee Advisory Council. These forms are necessary because they help beekeepers, agricultural leaders, and researches more forward in figuring out how to keep the bees safe. If you’re interested in learning more about the coalition, click here.
If you’d like to learn more about bees and their importance, visit Monsanto to find out more. There you can learn about the steps that they’re taking to save the bees from going extinct.