Is there a more important insect than the bee? Ah Sam Flowers thinks not. Bees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of the plants that provide the food we eat, or 70 of the top 100 food crops. Along with the flowering plants they tend to, bees evolved millions of years ago to become efficient transporters of pollen, unfailing in their efforts to keep their own hives alive (one colony contains 10,000 to 60,000 family members), and in the process, fertilizing the plants they drink from. Without them, our flowering plants would cease to exist, which would halt the production of everything from apples and avocados to coffee and carrots.
For a couple of years now, we’ve tended to a honeybee colony under the guidance of Mr. Jonathan Goodyear. Together, we maintain two rooftop hives. This August, those hives are thriving.
Bees use the nectar and pollen they get from flowers to create a kind of nectar juice as well as what’s known as bee bread. This is a nutrient-rich food source for the bees.
As a bee takes nectar from a flower, its legs rub up against the stamen of that flower, picking up pollen. The pollen is the flower’s way of ensuring that its male genetic material can be transported to another flower by bees, birds or the wind. Bees store pollen in little pouches in their legs.
Flowers have evolved to help the bees (and themselves) in this process. They use color and scent to attract bees but also to guide them straight to the source of their nectar. The culture of bees is absolutely fascinating, and we encourage you to investigate all that this industrious little life-giver can do