Why Bees Are Important to Food Production and Farm Life

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Honey bee pollinating apple blossom at Parlee Farms

Honeybee pollinating apple blossom at Parlee Farms

To many, bees are viewed, at best, as outdoor pests and at worst, dangerous insects with stingers that are hurtful and potentially life threatening. But did you know that bees are a crucial component of food production? In fact, it’s estimated that bees are responsible for a third of the food that we eat.

Animals including birds, bats, beetles, and butterflies are all pollinators, transferring pollen between flowers and plants, but the honeybee is the most important pollinator. Bees pollinate approximately 80 percent of our flowering crops. A honeybee can visit between 50-1000 flowers in one trip, which takes between 30 minutes to four hours. Examples of bee pollinated crops include watermelons, cantaloupe, citrus, apples, cucumbers, squash, most berry crops, broccoli, nuts, asparagus, and more.

Honeybees aren’t just important for commercial farmers. Honeybees are also essential for successful home gardening and are necessary for the production of food for wildlife. In addition, bees aid in the production of alfalfa that is used for feed within the beef and dairy industries. Bee venom has medicinal properties and has been used for treating arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, cancer, epilepsy, depression, and more.

Bumble bee pollinating apple blossom at Parlee Farms

Bumblebee pollinating apple blossom at Parlee Farms

At Parlee Farms, our beekeeper is Andy Reseska from Boston Honey Company (http://bostonhoneycompany.com). We have 20 beehives on the farm now (from May-August) and we sell Boston Honey Company products in our Farmstand. It’s a great local product that’s good for you!

We are also fortunate to have a large population of native bumblebees! Bumblebees pollinate by vibrating the flower which improves the pollination process. In addition, bumblebees do not store food so they must pollinate in all weather conditions. Honeybees prefer to work in only good weather ~ sun, dry and in the 70s are ideal conditions for honeybee pollination.

Thank you to the bees for helping us grow our crops!

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This post was written by Parlee Farms