Bees are the most important of all our pollinators. Birds pollinate, bugs pollinate, but bees make the biggest contribution. Approximately one-third of all human food is prepared from plants that depend on bees for pollination. Bees come in different sizes and shapes and Canada is home to approximately 800 species. When people think of bees, most think of the honey bee. And if you have ever been stung by an honey bee you know how aggressively it will defend its nest. The honey bee was introduced to Canada from Europe almost 400 years ago. Treasured for its natural raw honey production, beeswax and other products it is used by many farmers right here in our area for crop pollination. Apples and soft fruit in the Niagara Region and berries here in Haldimand County, from where we get our blueberry honey are all crops that depend on the humble honey bee for pollination.
You may have seen some of the more native bees such as the bumble bee or the mason bees buzzing around in your yard. Going from flower to flower collecting pollen and a thin sweet liquid called nectar that is the honeybee’s lifeline. Unlike their cousins the honey bee which share labour and care taking of its young, the majority of these native bees prepares her own nest, provides her own food (pollen and nectar) for offspring and lays her own eggs.
In future post we will be talking about what you can do to draw bees to your yard with bee-friendly plants and drinking stations.
Bees and bees alone have freely offered food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics to our human population for thousands of years. Now is the time to appreciate what they have done and provide an environment to keep them healthy and prosperous. We can begin by supporting organic farming which avoids the use of insecticides, and planting nectar-rich wildflowers giveing these wonderful creatures all the help they deserve.
And we can buy raw unprocessed honey, packed full of life-enhancing ingredients, at health-food stores, online and at farmers’ markets.