Fertilization of a plant is important so that fruit or vegetables can be produced. In order to consider the process complete, the pollen from the male part of the plant is transferred to the pistil, the female part of the plant.
There are different methods in which this is considered completed. In the abiotic method, the pollen reaches the pistil without the help of any other organisms. Meanwhile, in the biotic method, organisms called pollinators are tasked with transportation of the pollen. The biotic method is important because many plants/crops require cross pollination, which means the pollen from one plant must be delivered to the pistil of another plant in order to complete the pollination process.
Honey bees are not the only pollinators. There are other small animals, including mammals and birds and even reptiles, that are involved in the pollination. Honey bees are a huge part of the pollination process. In the US, there are an estimated 2.4 million colonies, and of those, almost two-thirds are used to pollinate crops for local growers.
In Canada there are approximately 7000 beekeepers operating about 600,000 colonies. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba produce the most honey.The majority of BC and eastern Canada commercial beekeepers are involved in pollination services particularly for blueberries and apples. Canada produces 75 million pounds of honey annually. 1/3 from Alberta, 1/3 Saskatchewan and Manitoba and 1/3 from rest of the country.
The world has 115 food crops that are considered most important to human life. Of those, 87 require pollination in order to successfully produce fruits, nuts and seeds. This means that the colonies of bees are even more important, as wild colonies have been greatly depleted due to lack of environment, exposure to chemicals and other human interventions.
The importance of bees to pollination and the successful growth of food crops turns into monetary value. In fact, bees are estimated at a value of around $20 billion in the US. Around the world, that figure may be as high as $90 billion. This is because the use of bees to pollinate can result in a 50% large yield in crop for some plants.
The involvement of bees in the successful pollination of crops means a greater yield of honey, better chance of a bigger crop for the plants and also a financial gain for the beekeeper who maintains healthy colonies that can be used for the pollination process. Bees may be small, but they are key to the success of plant growth and fruit bearing during the specific seasons.