More than Just Honey, Bees Play Large Role in our Food System

By Mark Askelson markkrjb@loretel.net (6/29/20)

Minnesota -- The next time you snack on almonds, add blueberries to your smoothie or eat pumpkin pie, thank a pollinator and thank farmers, ranchers and private forestland owners who work hard to create and maintain their habitat.

Pollinators, such as honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, birds, bats, flies and many others, play a critical role in crop production. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t have many crops.

This past week was an opportunity celebrate these iconic and crucial pollinators during National Pollinator Week and we caught up with a local beekeeper, Pat Babolian of Babolian Honey, to learn about the ins and outs of the honey operation during the Farm and Field Show on KRJB.

Babolian says as great as honey is, the roles of bees in our ecosystem is much larger than that.

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While other insects and diseases can be a problem, one of the biggest challenges facing bees and beekeepers is a lack of habitat, according Babolian.

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Weather also plays a crucial factor in keeping bees happy and healthy and Pat says bees thrive in the same conditions as crops do. But to keep bees alive throughout the entire year, that often means traveling with the bees to warmer climates in the winter.

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The extensive and critical world of crop pollinators is a $20 billion a year industry. About 75 percent of crop plants are pollinated by billions of animals and insects every year

Many federal, state and local government agencies, non-government organizations and universities have launched extensive efforts to protect pollinators, especially honeybees and the Monarch butterfly. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) works closely with farmers, forest landowners and other private landowners to increase pollinator habitat in targeted areas nationwide.

When we protect pollinators, we protect our ability to grow food. Whether you are a large commodity producer, a small and diverse organic producer or even a suburban homeowner, you can have an important role in saving pollinators in Minnesota.

You can help protect pollinators by doing the following: