Pollinators 101: Facts from National Pollinator Week

Monday, June 25, 2012
Bee Health

Approximately one-third of all the crops in the United States require insect pollination. Honey bees – though not the sole pollinating species – are important contributors to this process. As such, they are intrinsically tied to agriculture, people and our planet. In honor of National Pollinator Week, Bayer’s resident apiologist (bee expert) Dick Rogers and environmental toxicologist David Fischer share some facts:

What is pollination?

Pollination is an important part of the life cycle of all flowering plants and crops. When pollen is moved from flower to flower of the same species, it leads to fertilization.

  • Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species by wind or animals. Successful pollination results in the production of healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing plants to reproduce. Without pollinators, we simply wouldn’t have these crops.[1]
  • Many flowers rely on attracting bees to carry their pollen.[2]
  • Bees and butterflies are also drawn by the flower’s sweet juice or nectar. As they sip the nectar, they may brush pollen on to the stigma, or take some on their bodies from the anthers to the stigma of other flowers.[3]

What are pollinators?

Pollination can occur by animal or by wind and water. Pollinators include bees, hummingbirds, ants, birds, moths, bats, beetles, butterflies and flies.

  • More than 200,000 animal species serve as pollinators. Most are insects – only about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats or small mammals.[4]
  • Flowers that rely on daytime pollinators are often brightly colored. Flowers that bloom at night are often more pale in color and instead emit sweet perfumes or other strong odors to attract moths, bats and other nocturnal pollinators.[4]
  • About 75 percent of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators for fertilization. [1]

Why are pollinators important?

Virtually all of the world’s seed plants need to be pollinated. Flowering plants produce breathable oxygen, help purify water, prevent erosion, provide foliage and return moisture to the atmosphere.

  • The work of pollinators ensures full harvests of crops and contributes to healthy plants everywhere.[5]
  • An estimated one-third of all foods and beverages are delivered by pollinators.[5]
  • In the U.S., pollination produces nearly $20 billion worth of products annually.[5]

People are pollinators too!

With pollination providing such an essential role in of agriculture, growers of insect-pollinated crops cannot depend entirely on native, unmanaged bee species and other pollinating insects. Instead, growers must work closely with beekeepers, who can supply millions of honey bee hives each year to pollinate such valuable crops as almonds, blueberries, apples and many others. For more than 25 years, Bayer has worked to improve honey bee health, developing products and strategies to fight parasites and diseases, fostering strategic partnerships with growers, beekeepers and others, sponsoring research, and developing stewardship programs.

We also understand the importance of working with engaging members of the beekeeping community, particularly around critical bee health issues. To help facilitate this relationship, Bayer employs a full-time apiologist (bee expert) who works closely with the beekeeping community to better understand their issues and concerns. We hope these facts have helped you understand what the buzz is all about!

Tell us about your favorite pollinator! And share your pollinator pictures with us on Twitter @Bayer4CropsUS.

[1] http://pollinator.org/PDFs/NPW/Pollination%20Fast%20Facts%20-%20Food%20Industry.pdf

[2] http://www.houseandhome.org/pollination-facts

[3] http://www.houseandhome.org/pollination-facts

[4] http://www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/pollinator-fun-facts.html

[5] http://pollinator.org/PDFs/NPW/Pollination%20Fast%20Facts%20(3).pdf


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