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Bee Benefits

Bees provide a vital pollination service to millions of acres of crops, improving sustainability and biodiversity.

Bees are vitally important to the sustainability of agriculture. At least one-third of the human food supply from crops and plants depends on insect pollination, most of which is done by bees. As bees fly from plant to plant gathering pollen or nectar, the pollen they pick up at one flower brushes off on the next, completing the bees’ reproductive role in cross-pollination. This form of pollination allows for diversity in the species and produces stronger plants, often resulting in increased disease resistance.

Bees pollinate a significant portion of our crops, contributing billions to the value of crop production in this country alone. Honey bees contribute to increased yields and superior quality crops for growers and American consumers. As such, a healthy bee population is invaluable to a healthy U.S. agricultural economy. Native bees such as mason bees and alfalfa leafcutter bees are also important pollinators.

Without pollination by bees, many members of the agriculture value chain would be negatively impacted. Consumers would also be affected by not having ready access to many foods they enjoy that are dependent on bee pollination, including certain fruits and vegetables.

While some foods, such as wheat, rice and corn, do not depend on pollinators, several types of fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables could not be produced in sufficient quantities or at all without pollinators.

Relying on Bees

Many of these crops would suffer if not for pollinators. Almonds for example, depend entirely on honey bee pollination. More than 80 percent of the world’s almonds are produced in California. To pollinate the state’s approximately 740,000 bearing acres of almonds requires more than 1 million colonies of honey bees.

According to the USDA, bee pollination is responsible for approximately $17 billion in increased crop value each year.

Sources: United States Department of Agriculture;
Nicholas W. Calderone, Cornell University

The role of pollination is so important that bees are now bred specifically to offer contract pollination services. In many cases, the bees are collected, driven and/or flown across thousands of miles to pollinate crops.