Feared at best and considered a useless, disposable nuisance at worst, bees are among the most underappreciated creatures on the planet.
That’s a shame because our very existence relies on the tiny buzzing creatures.
We’ve known for years that bee populations all across North America and Europe are collapsing at an alarming rate.
This is a huge threat to our food supply. One-third of all the food we eat comes from plants that are pollinated by insects, and 80% of those crops are pollinated by bees. It also has big implications for our meat supply as well: plants (like alfalfa) that feed animals are pollinated by bees.
The largest international survey of insect pollinators found that just 2 percent of wild bee species now account for 80 percent of global crop pollination.
Put bluntly, if all the bees die, humanity will follow.
Worldwide, there are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven recognized biological families. Of those, 4,000 calls the United States home. Bees exist on every continent except Antarctica. Wherever you find insect-pollinated, flowering plants you will find bees.
Native bees come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, but one thing they all have in common is their important role as pollinators.
Here are just some of the fruits and veggies bumble bees help pollinate: Squash, pumpkin, zucchini, alfalfa, cranberries, apples, green beans, scarlet beans, runner beans, cucumber, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, potatoes, blueberries, cherries, kiwifruit, raspberries, blackberries, plums, and melons.
According to a Cornell University study published in 2012, crops pollinated by honeybees and other insects contributed $29 billion to United States farm income in 2010.
As you can see, bees are a crucial part of our ecosystem. Our food supplies – and essentially, our lives – rely on them.
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