It might be hard to bee–lieve, but our buzzing friends help produce about a third of what we eat and make our planet beautiful! Apiarist Drew Burnett, Founder and CEO of Drew’s Honeybees, has the buzz on these striped pollinators – and why we need to save them.
Bees Help Make Our Food
Drew says bees are super-critical to human life for one huge reason: they pollinate everything from almonds, blueberries, and cucumbers, to tangerines, watermelon, and zucchini. “Seriously, it’s easier to list the plants that aren’t pollinated by bees than those that are,” he says.
Bees Have Evolved With Us
According to Drew, “the European Honeybee is as well adapted to our intensive industrialized agricultural system as any pollinator on earth.” In the California Central Valley, farmers grow eighty percent of the world’s almonds in rows of almond trees packed closely together. This isn’t a natural ecosystem, and the honeybee is the only animal that can pollinate in these conditions.
These bees have evolved alongside us over thousands of years to collect nectar and pollen, so they can carry pollen on their small hairy bodies efficiently enough to cross-pollinate plants when other creatures can’t. Without them, it just wouldn’t be possible to grow many of the crops we enjoy today.
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Bees Move With Us
Honeybee hives get along pretty well. This lets beekeepers keep the honeybees on pallets that can be moved by forklift and put in an orchard or field while a crop blooms. After the crop’s done blooming, the hives are transported to what Drew calls “the next great pollination circus.” That’s how honeybees “zigzag” through the country. “From almonds in California to apples and cherries in Washington State, from blueberries in Maine to peaches in Georgia to oranges in Florida, farmers can call upon a legion of mobile beekeepers to reinforce the local supply.”
The Hive Mind
Honeybees perform thousands of tasks as a single superorganism powered by a hivemind. By working as one, they make thousands of different flowers and fruit blossom. This makes areas with honeybees more beautiful and more resilient – the more diverse an ecosystem is, the more it can withstand disruptions and disasters, like storms and weird weather. Drew also says they learn better than many vertebrates, which makes the hive mind smarter and strengthens the colony. As Drew says, “There is magic in a Honeybee hive.”
Drew recently received the 2018 SCORE Award for Outstanding Agricultural Small Business. Learn more about his CT-based company with a mission to “do some good” by visiting www.DrewsHoneybees.com.
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