Why the Food Industry Thrives on Honey Bee Pollination
When someone thinks about honey bees, they usually think about honey. That makes sense as honey bees make this amazing sweetener and flavor. However, honey bees impact our food system in ways beyond making honey. Honey bees are responsible for more than one-third of the foods we eat.
Think about that for a second. On average, honey bees are responsible for every third bite of food you take. They make commercial production of more than 90 different crops possible. Honey bees are responsible for bringing the world guacamole, pumpkin pie and most of our nut-dense food bars. They also ensure our food is flavorful by pollinating cinnamon, garlic, parsley and coriander.
Honey bees are among the most vital pollinators in the world, playing an essential role in maintaining biodiversity and ensuring the reproduction of plants. Their work in pollination supports not only natural ecosystems but also agricultural systems.
The Natural Mechanics of Honey Bee Pollination
Honey bees pollinate flowering crops, plants, trees, shrubs and weeds through their quest for food. When bees forage for food, they are looking for two things:
- Nectar = carbohydrates
- Pollen = protein
Fortunately for us and honey bees, both of these dietary needs are found on flowers. As bees move from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen, they inadvertently transfer pollen from the male part of one flower (the anther) to the female part (the stigma) of another. In natural ecosystems, honey bee pollination ensures the reproduction of many flowering plants, promoting biodiversity.
Honey bees make such effective pollinators because they are equipped with hairy bodies and pollen baskets (corbicula) on their hind legs, which allows them to effectively collect and transfer pollen. They can be safely managed and moved in large numbers from crop to crop by beekeepers.
The Impact of Honey Bees on the Food Industry
Check out this ingredient list from a popular food bar:
- Almonds - Require honey bee pollination
- Honey - Made by honey bees
- Almond butter - Require honey bee pollination
- Tapioca fiber
- Dried apples - Require honey bee pollination
- Egg whites
- Cinnamon - Require honey bee pollination
- Vanilla extract - Benefit from honey bee pollination
- Sea salt
Without honey bees, we don’t have this product or many just like it. It’s easy to see and understand the impact of honey bee pollination on our food supply for yourself. Print out this list of honey bee pollinated foods, and cross-reference it with the raw ingredients you use.
Honey bees help the food industry thrive, so it’s important for food and beverage manufacturers to support the honey industry. By using honey in product formulations, manufacturers can help beekeepers ensure their hives are healthy and crops are pollinated.