Buzzing into Spring Part 1: The Importance of Pollinators  


What is Pollination?  

Pollen is a powder-like substance that many plants produce for reproduction. You may already be familiar with pollen if you are part of the 25.7% of adults who experience seasonal pollen allergies–especially during the spring. Pollination is the process by which pollinators, such as honeybees, butterflies, bats, and birds, deposit pollen from flower to flower. It occurs when pollinators search for food, such as nectar and pollen. Once a plant is pollinated, it will be able to yield fruit and seeds. Without pollinators, many plants would not be able to reproduce.  

Did You Know That About ⅓ of the Foods We Eat Rely on Pollinators?  

Without pollinators, we would not be able to enjoy many of our favorite foods, including potatoes, chocolate, coffee, and many fruits and vegetables. Although there are a variety of pollinators out there, bees are the most common pollinators and do the heaviest lifting. In fact, honey bees perform about 80% of pollination across the globe, and a single bee colony can pollinate up to 300 million flowers every day. Bees not only fertilize and pollinate the foods we eat, but also the beautiful trees, flowers, and other plants around us. Without bees, our environment and food options would look drastically different–even at UMass. However, there have been concerns about a vulnerable bee population and how that may affect us. 

Is the Bee Population Declining?  

Despite many concerns, according to the USDA, the bee population has been rising over the past decade. There is an average of 2.7 million recorded honey bee colonies from 2010-2020–an 8% increase over the previous decade. Colony numbers have recovered over the last decade, as beekeepers have adapted to fighting diseases and overwinter losses have declined.  Although the US bee population has been slowly recovering, we should still be aware of the factors that cause fluctuation within the bee population, which you can read more about in the blog post titled “The Biggest Threats to Bees.”