Honey bees contribute over $14 billion to the value of U.S. crop production.
Many of the country’s crops would not exist without the honey bee at bloom time.
As honey bees gather pollen and nectar for their survival, they pollinate crops such as apples, cranberries, melons and broccoli. Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90-percent dependent on honey bee pollination; one crop, almonds, depends entirely on the honey bee for pollination at bloom time.
For many others, crop yield and quality would be greatly reduced without honey bee pollination. In fact, a 1999 Cornell University study documented that the contribution made by managed honey bees hired by U.S. crop growers to pollinate crops amounted to just over $14.6 billion.
Each year American farmers and growers continue to feed more people using less land. They produce an abundance of food that is nutritious and safe. Honey bees are very much a part of this modern agricultural success story. It’s estimated that there are about 2.4 million colonies in the U.S. today, two-thirds of which travel the country each year pollinating crops and producing honey and beeswax. More than one million colonies are used each year in California just to pollinate the state’s almond crop!
The $14.6 billion contribution made by managed honey bees comes in the form of increased yields and superior quality crops for growers and American consumers — a healthy beekeeping industry is invaluable to a healthy U.S. agricultural economy.
For more on how honey bee pollination benefits specific crops, visit http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/book/.
Additional information can be found on the Pollinator Partnership Web site at http://www.pollinator.org/projects.htm.