What do cheese, butter, milk, and ice cream all have in common?
If you answered that they all require bee pollination for mass production, you are correct!
Although it may not be intuitive, the dairy industry relies on the production of alfalfa to feed dairy cows. This alfalfa is grown from seed, which can only be produced via bee pollination of alfalfa flowers:
Due to alfalfa’s unique pollination mechanism, honey bees are not the best pollinators of alfalfa. For this reason, several other species of bees are managed commercially for alfalfa pollination, such as the alfalfa leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata) and the alkali bee (Nomia melanderi). These bees are particularly dear to me since I study alfalfa pollination, so I am sure I will be writing more about them in the future.
Putting Peppers and Tomatoes on your Pizza: The Humble Bumblebee
An Osmia a day keeps the doctor away:
When we talked about breakfast, I mentioned that a solitary bee called the Blue Orchard Bee can help pollinate almonds. Orchard bees, as their name suggests, also visit a variety of fruit trees, such as apples. Even though we don’t grow apple trees from seed, in order for apple fruits to develop the flower must be cross pollinated with another apple or crabapple variety. In the Eastern U.S., some researchers are experiencing with using orchard bees to commercially pollinate apples.
Thanks for reading this week’s post! Please come back next week to learn more about how pollinators bring color to our plates.