Think bees are just an annoyance in the summer? Think again! Honey bees actually play a huge role not only in the honey business but in the entire agricultural industry as a whole. In fact, a world without bees would leave us without a lot of the most popular crops we enjoy today. Here are 15 types of food crops that would not be able to survive without the help of bee pollination.
The crops that we all know:
Starting with the obvious, a world without bees would be a world without honey. Bees are the only animals in the world able to produce honey. While other insects are able to make substances that are similar to honey, no creature in the world is able to replicate the vigorous production of the honey bee.
Around 80 percent of the world’s almonds come from the almond tree groves in California. These groves are home to nearly half the world’s honey bee population, as almond farmers depend on the bees to act as the main pollinators. Without honey bees, almond crop production would quickly fail. This would leave us without popular dietary substitutions like almond butter, almond milk, or almond flour.
Bees play a critical role in the production of a large portion of the most common berries. This includes blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, currants, boysenberries, cranberries, raspberries, and more. Without bees to help with pollination, there would be significantly fewer berry plants that will make it to fruition.
Honey bees are the primary pollinator for cherry trees, as they find the nectar very attractive and easy to collect. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, bees pollinate about 90 percent of cherries in the United States.
Proper pollination is what ensures that a crop will form evenly and without any defects. Due to their constant hard work, bees are responsible for fertilizing about 90 percent of watermelon crop. Next time you cut open a fresh watermelon in the summer, be sure to thank the bees.
The National Agricultural Statistic Service also states that 90 percent of the avocado growth in the United States relies on honey bees. In addition to pollinating the flowers, bees can also use the nectar to create avocado honey, a popular variety.
Pumpkins, along with other squash and gourd-type crops, also rely heavily on the work of the honey bee. If bees were to disappear, there would not be enough pumpkins for Halloween, and pumpkin pie would become an expensive delicacy.
Cucumbers require constant pollination visits in order to grow properly. Without bees, cucumber harvest would be much less successful. This means no more cucumber salad and no more pickles for your burgers.
Washington State is the largest producer of apples in the nation, with 10 to 12 billion apples harvested each year. Apple farmers rely on the bees to help pollinate the trees, as well as aid in the production of the fruit. Without the help of bees, farmers would have a much smaller harvest of low-quality apples.
Onions are a kitchen staple and can be found in dishes from all across the globe. Honey bees are used to help create seeds to grow new onions. This is particularly important, as onions are typically harvested before blooming. A farmer will need a lot of onion seeds to keep up with demand.
While the coffee plant is self-pollinating, coffee farmers use honey bees to help the plant grow a healthy crop. Coffee plants only have a short window of pollination, and if left untouched the crop can be more prone to disease. While coffee would still grow without bees, the demand would quickly outweigh the supply, causing coffee prices to rise considerably.
Many popular cooking oils are made using seeds from crops that have been fertilized by honey bees. This includes low-fat rapeseed or sunflower oils, both healthy alternatives to olive oil. Unfortunately, many of these crops are treated with harsh pesticides that can kill bees.
Besides their major stake in the almond industry, bees also aid in the production of other nuts. Honey bees are known to pollinate cashews, brazil nuts, chestnuts, coconuts, macadamia nuts, and more.
Mustard is one of the most popular condiments, and we can thank bees for making it widely available. Along with making a delicious dipping sauce, mustard seed has a variety of health benefits. About one-third of the world’s mustard plants depend on the pollination of bees, so without them, we’d be left without enough mustard to go around.
While beans don’t rely solely on the work of bees, many farmers use them to keep up their crop production. Bees can help grow all kinds of beans, including lima beans, kidney beans, string beans and green beans.
A world without bees would be a bland world indeed! You can do your part to help keep the bees by planting wildflowers and using only natural pesticides on your farm or garden.