Honey Bees Make Earth Day Sweet

Posted by National Honey Board on April 26, 2016

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Spring has officially sprung, which means that the bees and butterflies are buzzing in gardens across the country. Since we celebrated Earth Day last week, we thought that we would take this time to honor the honey bee for all her hard work, not only making honey but making our world a more beautiful and flavorful place.

While honey bees are known for making the sweet golden treat of their namesake, honey, did you also know that these busy ladies are also responsible for a large portion of our agricultural market and even the very delicious food items on your plate? This very vital second function of honey bees is known as pollination.

Pollination is the fertilization of a flowering plant. Pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from the anthers of a flower to the ovules of that or another flower. Honey bees visit millions of blossoms in their lifetimes and are premier pollinators because they are available throughout the growing season and pollinate a wide range of crops. Without the honey bees' pollination work, the quantity and quality of many crops would be reduced and some would not yield at all.

Here's a fun fact: one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and honey bees are responsible for approximately 80% percent of that work. Talk about busy bees! Because of their pollination work, honey bees provide us with a much broader food selection than we would know otherwise. We can all thank the little honey bees for the following fruits, veggies and legumes:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Avocados
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Alfalfa Seed
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Sunflower

And that doesn't even cover all of them! Did you know that almonds are 100% dependent on honey bee pollination? Isn't it amazing what such small creatures can do? You can find out more about honey bees' "second shift" here.

So what is your favorite honey bee pollinated treat? Is it succulent plums, crisp cucumber, crunchy almonds or sweet honey? Tell us all about it in the comments below!