It’s Good for the Planet: Beekeepers and Managed Pollination

Bee Boxes in Sunflower Field

Did you know? More than one-third of the world’s food supply wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the work of beekeepers, honey bees and other pollinators.

The diversity of the beekeeping craft has evolved over time, and managed pollination is just one of the ways beekeepers make a big impact on the world. Managed pollination is the practice of caring for hives and honey bees in order to pollinate the crops that sustain us all. At the National Honey Board (NHB), we couldn’t be more grateful for the hard work of beekeepers and managed pollinators. They work tirelessly, to not only produce honey, nature’s perfect sweetener, but also to make it possible to feed the world nutritious foods like fruits, nuts, and vegetables through pollination services.

While many pollinators are important contributors, honey bees have several traits that make them well-suited for the job of crop pollination, according to the Bee Health Collective website. Honey bees can be managed and moved in large numbers from crop to crop by beekeepers, they are resilient generalists which means they forage on (and pollinate) many types of blooms, and they are considered by growers to be the best “bang for your buck” for pollination.

What some people may not realize is that the coexistence of beekeepers and all pollinators - including native bees, birds, butterflies, and honey bees - is what sustains ecosystems - and humanity.

“Sustainability is really important in the honey industry,” said Zac Browning, beekeeper for Brownings Honey. “When you are talking about a third of our diet…what could be bigger than that?”

We believe the beekeepers who manage pollinators are unsung heroes who have evolved their practices using research and innovation to protect bees, habitats and local economies:

Protecting the Bees is a Best Practice: Together with researchers around the nation, they have discovered innovative solutions to combat threats like parasites, pathogens, poor nutrition, and pesticides.

Protecting Habitats is Good for Everyone: Good land stewardship benefits beekeepers, the honey industry and agricultural partners because we all rely on healthy habitats to grow food. Responsible beekeeping supports best practices to find innovative solutions for planting healthy pollen sources and effective but considerate pest control.

Protecting Local Economies for the Greater Good: According to Bee Health Collective, managed pollination contributes $17 billion each year (2009) to US economies through pollination services and honey bee-pollinated crops. There are 90 different crops that are reliant on beekeepers and honey bees so this is an invaluable practice that ultimately puts food on dinner tables across the nation.

The next time you sit down to enjoy a meal, we encourage you to take a moment to recognize the beekeepers and honey bees who contributed “behind the hive.”

For more information about the work of beekeepers and managed pollinators, visit the “Celebrate Beekeeping” video series on YouTube.