2021 Virtual Farm Tour Video: Day 6
2021 Virtual Farm Tour Day 6: Dennis the Bee Guy
What is pollination?
Pollination starts with the flower. There are female flowers, male flowers or flowers that have both female and male parts. Male flowers produce pollen. Female flowers have ovaries that require fertilization from a male flower. The pollen needs to reach the female ovary for fertilization to occur. Pollination is the movement of pollen from the male to female flower. After pollination, a flower is fertilized. It can then develop into a fruit or vegetable.
There are different ways for pollen to reach the female ovaries of a flower. Sometimes this happens by wind blowing pollen. This is also how pollen ends up all over our cars during the spring. However, sometimes, the plants need help getting that pollen from the male flower to the female flower. That is where pollinators come in! A pollinator assists in moving pollen around. The honey bee is one of the most widely recognized pollinators. Bees, butterflies, flies, other insects, birds, bats and many other creatures are also pollinators.
Why are honey bees important in agriculture?
First and foremost, the honey bee, Apis mellifera, is a pollinator! Pollination is needed for flowers to develop into fruits or veggies. Honey bees help in this pollination process. Although there are other pollinators, the honey bee is one of the most important ones in agriculture. Some farmers will actually “rent” honey bee colonies to help pollinate their crops and increase yields. In this case, a beekeeper can bring their hives to a farm just for this purpose. It is estimated that honey bees contribute nearly $20 billion to U.S. crops every year by providing pollination.
Honey bees are considered livestock just live cows! Did you know that there are nearly 5,000 registered beekeepers in the state of Florida as of 2019? The majority of these beekeepers have hives right in their own backyard. On the other hand, about 15% of beekeepers are commercial beekeepers. These include beekeepers such as those that produce/sell honey, breed queens, or travel with their hives to offer pollination services. Just a single honey bee hive can produce 50 to 100 pounds of honey every year. Our Florida beekeepers all together produce over 10.7 million pounds of honey every year. That’s a lot of delicious honey!
Why do bees make honey?
Bees need to eat just like we do! They need protein, carbohydrates, nutrients, and fats in their diet and of course, water. Bees will collect nectar, pollen, and water to meet these needs. They get nectar and pollen from the flowers they visit. Pollen, specifically, contains protein. Bees will carry this back to the hive in a special structure on their legs called a pollen basket (corbicula).
Nectar is a sweet substance full of carbohydrates. It also has important minerals and nutrients that the bees need to survive. In the hive, honey bees process nectar and turn it into honey so that it can be stored in the hive as a food source. This is especially important in the winter time when there aren’t a lot of flowers around that the bees can visit. Just like the bees, many people find honey tasty! In addition to pollination, honey bees are raised to produce honey, hence why we consider them livestock.
How can you protect pollinators?
- Plant pollinator-friendly plants in your garden or landscape.
- Limit the use of pesticides, especially when pollinators are around.
- Create a bee habitat to encourage pollinators in your area.
- Become a beekeeper and take care of a beehive.
2021 Virtual Farm Tour and Video Scavenger Hunt
Hidden in each of our 2021 Virtual Farm Tour videos is a keyword. If you collect at least 4 out of the 6 keywords, you could have a chance to win some cool stuff! After watching the videos and collecting the keywords, fill out this quick survey. We have 3 baskets full of local Florida goodies, 10 compost bins and 10 at-home hydroponics kits to give away to randomly selected survey participants. For more information and links to all six 2021 Virtual Farm Tour videos, visit this 2021 Virtual Farm Tour blog.