They are the super pollinators of our planet!
Article by Selene Muldowney
Bees are often one of the most underappreciated insects on our planet and yet they are some of the hardest working. Their laborious efforts play an important role in the production of many of the foods we consume from vegetables to fruits, and often impacting the food eaten by other animals. Not only must be pay homage to such a magnificent creature for their roles in our food but also for the delicious nectar we call honey and the wax we use in common household items.
Bees are responsible for pollinating approximately one-sixth of flowering plant species and about 400 different agricultural types of plants worldwide. Pollination is the vital process in flowering plant reproduction and an invaluable service provided by bees and other pollinators including bats, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds, and beetles. These pollination services are not only vital for our worldwide ecosystem’s survival but also contribute to approximately over $20 billion toward agricultural crops in the United States alone.
There are around 25,000 different bee species identified worldwide with about 4,000 just found in the United States alone; honeybees are more recent settlers. This massive number of 25,000 is then further classified into 4,000 genera and then even further divided into just nine bee families. The Apidae family is the most commonly known and often found in your very own backyard; honeybees and bumblebees to name a few. The different kinds of bees have different success at their jobs and dutifully take on their challenges; for example, bumblebees appear to have greater success at pollinating certain kinds of crops due to their size and their more vigorous vibrations.
It all magically happens through a process called pollination. Simply stated, pollination is the vital process in flowering plant reproduction involving the transfer of pollen grains from the anther (male part) to the stigma (female part) of the same, or another plant of the same species. Upon the two parts meeting, a plant’s seed, nut, or fruit is then formed.
Some plant species transfer the pollen on their own, while others rely on the wind as well as animals. Most importantly, the honeybee’s role as they pollinate on a large commercial scale, aiding in the production of all sorts of fruit and vegetables. Bees tend to focus their energies on one plant species at a time which aide in a higher quality pollination, so the pollen is more evenly distributed rather than the wind spreading pollen to different plants that do not require that particular pollen for survival. Pollination is essential for plant reproduction as well as the production of foraging crops like beans and clover often readily consumed by livestock and other foraging animals.
Of course, we value the food production and liquid gold created by these hard-working insects but let us not forget how beautiful the bees and their fellow pollinators make the world. Perhaps the simplest task the bees endeavor in is the beautification of the floral landscape. Truly, bees are one of the most important insects on the planet and for this we are grateful!
Beekeeping has become a great pastime and hobby for many people. Tina Haigh, owner of Haigh Quarry located in Kankakee, Il., her sister, and brother-in-law discovered beekeeping about 5 years ago. The hives had been on their property for the past 20 years with busy bees doing their own pollinating and making honey. When the opportunity arrived, the trio jumped on it and dove straight into a new and unchartered territory. They learned everything from what kind of bees they had, to how to extract the honey, and the best ways to keep these busy buzzers safe over the winter.
From here Scubee Honey was born. A sweet, delicious, and naturally sourced nectar. The nectar is extracted with an electric extraction machine four times a year and bottled. In addition to pure, raw honey, they offer honeycomb taken straight off the frame. There are 10 hives located on the property, each home to approximately 10,000 locally sourced Russian bees. They spend their days foraging the indigenous plants, staying within three miles of their hives. Measures are taken to protect them over the winter; although sadly many colonies die off due to the extreme bitterness and lack of food.
The honey is unBEElievably delicious! Honey is available in half and whole pint sizes ranging from $8 to $15. Local folks can stop in and pick up a jar. Live out of town? That’s ok – you can call in at 815.939.7797 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to have the bottles shipped.