Bug Blog

Pollinators: the ‘Other Guys

Pollinators: the ‘Other Guys

When we think of insects that help pollinate our crops, we usually go straight to honey bees, but there are actually many other pollinators out there that also need our concern and attention. The decline in honeybees has begun to worry officials across the world, but maybe one answer is to look to the other pollinators out there. A recent study revealed that the non-bee pollinators are playing a much larger role in our lives than we had thought.

We need pollinating insects. There’s no beating around the bush. These guys are essential to our continued existence. Around three fourths of the world’s food crops are dependent on pollinators. Some plants such as almonds and melons depend on pollination to produce their fruit or nuts, while others such as carrots need them for seed production. Honeybees are not the only insects that we depend on to fulfill this need. Other pollinators such as flies, beetles, butterflies, moths, and wasps are just important. In Sweden pollination of rape seed by wild insects can vary from 5 to 80 percent. While there are many programs in place to reward farmers for encouraging bees to inhabit their land through planting more woody vegetation, there are none for these other pollinators. This doesn’t help the other pollinators who have different adult and larval stages, and therefore have very different needs when it comes to resources. We’ve been focusing so hard on the honeybee that we might be missing out on the bigger picture when it comes to the pollination of our food crops.

Did you know about these other pollinators? Do you think we should consider their habitat needs as well as those of the honeybee?