How Flower Belt on Farms Benefit Bees and Crop Pollination
Wildflower strips can ensure a healthy, sustainable food supply for crops that rely on bee pollination. “Bloom where you're planted” equals “Reap what you sow.”
Wildflowers add resilience to our farming systems by providing bees with habitat and food - pollen and nectar. And they're not just for honeybees. Many native bees, such as bumble bees and blue orchard bees, are important crop pollinators. Currently about a third of our crops benefit from bee pollination. This includes vegetables, fruits and nuts, as well as crops grown for seed production, including sunflowers, melons, and carrots.
Some important native bee crop pollinators include bumble bees, sunflower bees, squash bees, mason bees (blue orchard bees, which pollinate almonds, are mason bees) and leafcutter bees.
The benefits of native bees? Generally, they forage on flowers earlier in the day than honeybees do, they tolerate more wind and cooler temperatures and often they're more efficient at gathering and moving pollen from one flower to another. Native bees also prompt honeybees to disperse more, resulting in more pollinator efficiency. All this is important for good pollination and crop production, especially for crops like almonds that bloom in late winter when the weather is more unpredictable.
Farms with strips of flowers along field edges have higher numbers of native bees than those that do not. Honeybees also benefit from better nutrition from flowers, strengthening their resiliency to pests, diseases, and pesticides.
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