#PolliNationSA | Why are bees so important?

Published on July 26th 2020
A close up of a flower
Most flowering plants require an animal pollinator (bees are little animals), and the plants from which we harvest our food are no different.
A close up of a bug
Large carpenter bees, sometimes semi-social sharing nest with sisters. Peter Webb
Bees are, however, different to most other pollinators because their larvae are not free-living like caterpillars. They live in nests and all their food is provided by adult females, their mothers in solitary bees and workers in social bees. Other flower visitors only take food for themselves and therefore visit flowers much less often.
A bird sitting on top of a dirt field
Banded digger bee entering its nest. Note parasitic fly waiting! J. Couville
Because bees fly back and forth collecting pollen and nectar they visit flowers much more often than other flower visitors. Also, they tend to focus on a particular species of flower at a time, whereas general nectar feeders appear to be less fussy.
Plants are the primary producers, i.e., they use the sun’s energy to grow. Most other terrestrial life consumes plants for food, either directly or indirectly, like carnivores that eat herbivores. And most plants need a pollinator to reproduce.
Mopani bees taking a meal. Elize Eveleigh
We are no exception - most of our fruit and seed crops require pollinators. Pumpkin, tomato, peppers, cucumber and the like are fruit. Seed crops may be seeds that we eat, like peas, beans, sunflowers and nuts, or seeds we sow like carrot, onion and cabbage.
Cereals, like maize, rice and wheat are wind-pollinated, as are other crops like grapes. Banana does not require a pollinator and therefore do not have seeds, and there are many crops that are self-pollinated.

Share your bee pictures with us by using the hashtag #PolliNationSA!

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