Native Bees: Pollination

music
ambience: carpenter bee, honey bee swarm

What do almonds, apples, blueberries, cranberries, cantaloupes, squash, and watermelon all have in common? Here’s your clue:

ambience: solo carpenter bee

I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The answer is that these are all foods which must have bees pollinate them. No bees – then none of these fruits can reproduce. Claire Kremen is an Assistant Professor of Conservation Biology at Princeton University.

“Bees are important to agriculture because they actually contribute to 15 to 30 percent of our food supply. So, in other words, there are crops that require bee pollination, and those crops make up 15 to 30 percent of the food that we eat. Looked at in another way, there are about 1,600 different crop species worldwide, and about 70 percent of them require a pollinator for one or more of their cultivars.”

Professor Kremen says that pollinating bees help plants produce larger, sweeter fruits.

“When cross-pollination occurs rather than self-pollination, then new genetic combinations are forming, and there are often more viable seeds. When there are more viable seeds, the plant is stimulated to produce a larger fruit… a more attractive fruit. So a really big, bright-red, sweet, tomato is going to attract some disperser, some animal disperser, that will disperse those seeds into the environment. And, so – this is my personal theory, but I think that plants make sweeter fruits, bigger fruits, in part in response to the genetic diversity that occurs through cross-pollination.”

We’ll hear more on bees and pollination in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Native Bees: Pollination

Up to 30 percent of the food we eat is pollinated by bees.
Air Date:10/04/2004
Scientist:
Transcript:


music
ambience: carpenter bee, honey bee swarm

What do almonds, apples, blueberries, cranberries, cantaloupes, squash, and watermelon all have in common? Here’s your clue:

ambience: solo carpenter bee

I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The answer is that these are all foods which must have bees pollinate them. No bees - then none of these fruits can reproduce. Claire Kremen is an Assistant Professor of Conservation Biology at Princeton University.

“Bees are important to agriculture because they actually contribute to 15 to 30 percent of our food supply. So, in other words, there are crops that require bee pollination, and those crops make up 15 to 30 percent of the food that we eat. Looked at in another way, there are about 1,600 different crop species worldwide, and about 70 percent of them require a pollinator for one or more of their cultivars.”

Professor Kremen says that pollinating bees help plants produce larger, sweeter fruits.

“When cross-pollination occurs rather than self-pollination, then new genetic combinations are forming, and there are often more viable seeds. When there are more viable seeds, the plant is stimulated to produce a larger fruit... a more attractive fruit. So a really big, bright-red, sweet, tomato is going to attract some disperser, some animal disperser, that will disperse those seeds into the environment. And, so - this is my personal theory, but I think that plants make sweeter fruits, bigger fruits, in part in response to the genetic diversity that occurs through cross-pollination.”

We’ll hear more on bees and pollination in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music