This week is National Pollinator Week. Pollinators include insects and animals like bees, birds, bats, and butterflies. These creatures work tirelessly to pollinate the blossoms of flowers and crops all over the globe. We would have significant challenges in food production without these essential pollinators.
Honeybees are foundational, they are the nation’s primary pollinators “adding at least $15 billion a year in value to about 90 crops by increasing yields and helping to ensure superior-quality harvests” (USDA).
We rely on honeybees and native pollinators (bumblebees, sweat bees etc.) to pollinate our crops. We care about providing the best environment for their care and protection. Honeybee numbers have declined from 6 million hives in the 1940s to approximately 2.5 million hives today (USDA). Hive loss can be caused by different factors including stress, parasites, poor nutrition, exposure to pesticides, and colony collapse disorder.
Honeybees and other pollinators need our intentional stewardship. If you don’t live or work on a farm where beehives are in use, you can still contribute to the care and protection of these important partners.
First and foremost, planting bee-friendly flowers and herbs in your yard and/or garden areas will give pollinators a home that will supply them with nectar for nourishment. Secondly, bees need water so providing a birdbath or basin of water in your garden helps these workers stay hydrated and content.
For more information about creating a pollinator-friendly garden, go to www.pollinator.org/guides.
What is Thomas Creek Farms perspective on the importance and care for bees that assist in the pollination of the crops whose harvest become your products?
Pollinators and Thomas Creek Farms
Every spring local beekeepers provide hives of eager European honeybees to assist in the pollination of our California and Oregon blueberry fields as well as our California stone fruit orchards. We also rely on native pollinators like bumblebees, sweat bees, and Syrphid flies, among others.
George Kaufman, a certified crop advisor at AgriCare, our sister company, provided further details on the bees on our farms. “Mature blueberry fields will have up to four hives per acre,” Kaufman said. As for the number of actual bees, it “steadily increases from winter through pollination season, peaking near the end of the blueberry pollination period at 50,000 bees per hive.”
The hives remain in the fields for the duration of the blueberry bloom period. Native bees take advantage of the blueberry blooms too, and we purposefully create an inviting environment full of wildflowers to attract native pollinators and provide further pollen options for them.
Adequate pollination affects blueberry yield and long-term health of the plants. “Without pollination, the berry will not develop correctly,” Kaufman said. Pollination is very important to the long-term health of the farm, because without it, the blueberry plants will not produce a productive crop. The farm relies on both honeybees and native pollinators for the finest quality blueberries each year.
As growers and innovators of healthy-for-you value added products and ingredients we need pollinators and we make it a priority to provide a healthy environment for them to thrive. They are a vital step in the process of putting the very best fresh, frozen, freeze-dried and air-dried fruit products in your hands to include in your excellent products. We can’t do it without them, so let’s work together to protect and sustain them!
If you have further questions about USDA’s National Pollinator Week, below are some excellent resources for further education.