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Protecting our pollinators

periodiCALS, Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2018

You may find bees to be a real pain but don’t swat them too far away—your food depends on them. 

About one-third of our edible crops are pollinated by insects, and most of that work is done by our tireless agricultural partners, the bees. These incredible, tiny creatures play an enormous role in growing many of our favorite foods—fruits like apples, strawberries, pumpkins, watermelon and more, plus vegetables, nuts, spices and even coffee.

Around the Hive

  • 20,000 bee species worldwide.
  • 50% of the $170 billion in crop pollination services globally is due to the managed honeybee—Apis mellifera.
  • 5,000 flowers visited by a honeybee on a good day.
  • 60 pounds of honey produced each year by a healthy colony.

Sweet Survival

  • Honeybees get through the winter by packing together inside the hive and “shivering” to keep warm. They feed off stores of honey for energy, and their activity keeps the hive at a balmy 95 degrees throughout the winter.

Saving the Bees

  • 416 bee species are found in New York. 50+ are known to be in decline, and likely many more are threatened.
  • 18 bumblebee species are native to NY. 16 of those in decline. One—the rusty patched bumblebee—is on the Federal Endangered Species list.
  • 42-68% of New York’s 100,000 colonies have died each year since 2010.
  • 320 colonies sampled by our New York State Beekeeper Tech Team in 2017 as we worked with 34 beekeepers across the state.
  • 50 beekeepers are trained each year by our Cornell University Master Beekeeper Program to manage their colonies in ways that maximize their health and productivity.

Data provided by Scott McArt, assistant professor in the Department of Entomology, and Emma Mullen, extension associate.

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