June 20–26th is Pollinator Week, a time for everyone everywhere to celebrate the species who pollinate flowers of all kinds. Why, you might ask, is a honey company so gung-ho about pollinators? Well, we don’t just love bees for honey. They’re also nature’s most important pollinator.
There are thousands of species of wild bees in ecosystems around the world (think solitary bumblebees and carpenter bees, not the honey bees that live in hives) that are basically fine-tuned to pollinate local plants. They forage for nectar and pollen wherever they can get it, and over millions of years, bees and plants have both evolved to make this process as easy as possible while ensuring genetic diversity.
Genetic diversity is a semi-fancy scientific term that refers to the biggest benefit of pollination – besides more pretty flowers to look at. Because plants can’t get up, walk around, and reproduce with each other, they have to depend on something else to help them: bees, wind, water, or even humans. (However, some plants self-pollinate when a bit of their pollen comes in contact with their ovules.)
What Do Pollinators Do?
Most plants need to cross-pollinate, with pollen from one plant reaching the ovules of another. By mixing the genes from different plants, each generation is more diverse and less likely to be wiped out by viruses, bacteria, and environmental threats. Just by foraging for food, bees and other pollinators are helping ensure plants have the diversity to survive anything that comes their way.
But not just wild bees – honeybees too. The European honeybee is, naturally, native to Europe, but it’s proven to be a hugely effective pollinator pretty much everywhere, including the U.S. Millions of honeybees under the care of American beekeepers pollinate wildflowers, crops, and gardens all over the U.S. – making unique local honey varietals along the way. So, while Pollinator Week is our time to show thanks for all species of pollinators, we’re a little extra sweet on the bees.
Want to hear about pollinators from the true experts? You can learn even more from our friends over at Butterfly Pavilion. You can support their mission on their site or by buying your favorite local honey, because a portion of proceeds from every bottle of Local Hive support Butterfly Pavilion’s PACE program, created to conserve threatened pollinators worldwide.