Contrary to popular belief, pollination by Honeybees does not result in one third of the food we eat…!!! It’s probably much closer to one sixth or one ninth… Yes, about one third of the food we eat is the result of BIOTIC pollination (as opposed to wind pollination in cereal crops), but honeybees (Apis mellifera - pictured below) are just a part of the pollinator mix. Many of the other 20,000+ bee species on the planet also perform crop pollination, as do other insects such as flies and wasps. While determining precise, generalisable percentages is very difficult, we know from research in the UK that of the crops requiring biotic pollination (in the UK, in 2007), honeybees likely perform only a third of the overall pollination (so, are just responsible for a third, of a third, of the food produced in the UK in 2007!). The majority of biotic pollination in this instance was likely the result of non-honeybee native bees, and other native insects. We also know that globally, yields of a wide range of important crops increase significantly when visited by wild, non-honeybee pollinators, and often wild pollinators are more effective crop pollinators than honeybees. So, honeybees are indeed important to our global food production (even one ninth is very significant for a single bee species!), but other non-honeybee wild pollinators likely collectively contribute more, and as such must be given the recognition and protection they deserve.
These are a collection of posts that have appeared on the Bee Aware Brisbane Facebook page over the last couple of years.