Seed World

Surprisingly Few Bee Species Pollinate World’s Crops

A major international study finds that surprisingly few bee species are responsible for pollinating the world’s crops.
The paper, published in Nature Communications, suggests that only two percent of wild bee species pollinate 80 percent of bee-pollinated crops worldwide. The study is one of the largest on bee pollination to date.
While agricultural development and pesticides have been shown to produce sharp declines in many wild bee populations, the study shows these “busy bees” can remain abundant in agricultural landscapes.
The study gives a powerful economic rationale for conserving wild bees. It calculates the value of wild bee pollination to the global food system at $3,000 per hectare of insect-pollinated agricultural land — an amount in the billions globally, and roughly equal to the value of honeybees.
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