It’s not just bees that are important crop pollinators! The results of an international research project were published this week, showing just how important the non-bee pollinators are. The authors observed the insects visiting a range of crops, and determined that, on average, 39% of the pollinators that visited flowers were non-bees (flies, wasps, beetles, butterflies etc). This is yet more evidence showing why we need to consider more than just honey bees in our crop pollination systems. When you consider that a maximum of about a third of the food we eat is the result of insect pollination (and it is quite likely closer to a tenth of the food we eat, after you consider that some of the insect-pollinated crops can also produce yields, although lower, without insect pollinators at all), then after non-bee pollinators and native bees, honey bees are probably generally contributing to a much smaller overall component of the food supply than they are given credit for. Sorry honies, but it more and more seems you’re not as big as your reputation… (But! As a single species, honey bees, Apis mellifera, are still the most common and widespread of insect pollinators in crops, and so are indeed a very important part of the mix!). The researchers were a large, international team, lead by Romina Rader based at UNE in NSW, and included Brisbane’s very own Margie Mayfield, from UQ. You can find a link to the full scientific article here, for free: http://www.pnas.org/content/…/2015/11/24/1517092112.abstract Photo: A Syrphid fly visiting coriander flowers, here in Brisbane.
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These are a collection of posts that have appeared on the Bee Aware Brisbane Facebook page over the last couple of years.