Honey Bees are the ultimate pollinators!
In 2009 I took a beekeeping class and received a grant from the state of New Jersey to start my own honey bee colony. I was so excited about the opportunity to learn about them. One of the first things I learned was that the reason the state was giving grants to individuals was that 75% of all hives in NJ were commercial and were leaving the state on big trucks to pollinate commercial farms across the country. New Jersey is called the "Garden State" and as far as I am concerned grows the BEST tomatoes in the world, among other fruits and vegetables. The bees were leaving the state and local farmers were in need of the bees to help with pollination of crops. The state decided to enlist local homeowners to help with the task and as an incentive they gave away hives to first time bee keepers.
So what does commercial bee keeping entail? An 18 wheeler can carry hundreds of bee hives on its trailer. Each hive can have 60,000+ bees in it. That's a lotta bees! The hives are stacked one on top of the other. They are taken across state lines to pollinate a variety of crops and travel a circuit of farms. An example of a "circuit" is the citrus groves in Florida. Golden Blossom Honey is a bi-product of the "work" the bees do on the citrus groves circuit. The bees are transported to Florida when the trees are in blossom each season. The bees fly from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar to feed their colonies. As they do this they carry pollen on their bodies and cross-pollinate the flowers. Cross-pollination is necessary for the flower to become fertilized and become a fruit: orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit etc….. When the flowering season is over the hives are loaded back on the trucks and go to another location. Without the bees doing all the work there would be no citrus in your local supermarket. Golden Blossom Honey is the bi-product, which is the excess honey that the bees collect after they have fed their colony.
With traveling, use of pesticides, and habitat destruction populations of domestic and wild bees are in decline. It is know as Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists are just now beginning to realize the seriousness of this decline. This decline is a serious threat to our future agriculture. If you would like to learn more about honey bees here is a new movie trailer for the a movie coming out called "Queen of the Sun".