In blossom time, day after day, honeybees forage from sunrise to sunset visiting the flowers. A honeybee collects nectar or pollen on one journey, never both at the same time. And though each flower is in turn plundered, the bee visits only one species at a time. The bee, clad with many delicate bristles and hair like processes, becomes covered with the mealy pollen of the flowers it visits, and entering flower after flower leaves bits of pollen wherever it goes. These pollen grains are vitally important to the flowers, for without them they would not be able to form their seeds.
The part of the flower that creates the pollen is the anther – the stamen’s tip. Before seeds can be formed, pollen must find its way to another part of the flower, called the stigma. The shifting of pollen from anther to stigma is called pollination. Some flowers are able to do this work for themselves, without any outside help. This process is called self-pollination. In cross-pollination the pollen must be carried from one flower to another. Sometimes the wind carries it; sometimes beetles carry it; but very often, as you may have noticed in gardens, fields and meadows, pollen is carried from flower to flower by honeybees. This is the great service that bees render to the flowers – full payment for the sweet liquid they have gathered from the nectaries and for every grain of pollen they have made into bee bread.
Contrary to what we have been taught since we were kids, honeybees are the primary source of production for many things that we consume on a daily or a monthly basis, and it does not end at plants but extends further. More than 85% of the crops humans consume today are the result of honeybees. Without their presence, we are looking at crops and meals that are severely lacking nourishment. Bees either carry and spread pollen from one plant to another or hand it over to the young bees for sustenance. As bees utilize pollen as food for the source of energy, it allows them to further extend their reach to other plants that give rise to vegetables, flowers, seeds, and fruits, etc. Some bees will pollinate only one type of plant. If they don’t, the plant will cease to exist.
When we talk about honeybees and the benefits they offer, honey is the first thing that comes to mind. However, you would be surprised to hear that they make wax, candles, and other wax products as well. Beeswax, for instance, is used in chewing gum, lip balm, and wax coatings on cheese rounds. Additionally, honey can cure several illnesses as it contains propolis, which is an anti-bacterial agent. This anti-bacterial agent helps with wounds and fights off infections and bacteria. It is also said that the consumption of honey at a young age helps combat allergies as well.