Friday, October 1, 2021

The Relationship Between Beekeepers & Farmers

Have you ever heard about "mutual relationship"? A mutual relationship is when both individuals benefit from the interaction. In this case, we are going to look at the relationship between beekeepers and farmers and the benefit they each receive from working together with one another.

Benefits to the Consumer

With the joint effort of farmers and beekeepers, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. There are over 90 different crops that are pollinated by insects like honeybees. Some of your favorite may include melons, berries, pecans, apples, cucumbers, and so much more all because of the pollination from honeybees! Without farmers, our diets would look drastically different and without honeybees and beekeepers, 1/3 of the food that we eat wouldn't be possible. 

Working Together- Farmer Benefits

Beekeepers and farmers may work together for a multitude of reasons with one being pollination. When beekeepers introduce honeybees into fields of crops, the pollination that these honeybees help increase not only the yields but also the size and uniformity of the produce in that field. If large scale farmers have acres and acres of crops, there may be a chance that the local bees will not be able to effectively pollinate all of those crops leading to decreased yields and revenue for the farmer. Farmers receive the benefit of better crop production made possible through the partnership with beekeepers and their bees. 

Working Together- Beekeeper Benefits

When farmers and beekeepers work together, not only do the farmers benefit in this relationship but so do the beekeepers. When farmers ask beekeepers to bring hives of bees to crop fields for pollination, farmers typically will pay them for these pollination services. The payment from these pollination services can be a good source of income for the beekeeper as some beekeepers focus on providing these pollination services over producing honey. In addition to the payment that these beekeepers may receive, the bees that are placed in these crop fields will have the opportunity to collect nectar and pollen to store away as food. Some beekeepers may be able to receive specialty honey depending on what crops the bees are pollinating such as blueberry honey, orange blossom honey, and even cranberry honey. These specialty fruity honeys take on a faint taste of the flavor in which the nectar is gathered making orange blossom honey have a slight citrus flavor to it. Beekeepers can then go on to sell this honey as a specialty item as these types of honey are less common.

Small and Large Scale Beekeepers

There isn't just one type of beekeeper that farmers work with. Small scale beekeepers may not be solely focusing on providing pollination services to their local farmers. Rather, they may inadvertently be helping surrounding farmers as their bees visit the surrounding crops and orchards leading to increased production. These small scale beekeepers are typically keeping bees for a few reasons including pollinating their garden, receiving fresh honey, or for the joy of keeping bees. Large scale beekeepers, especially those that are focusing on pollination have a slightly different goal for their hives. While large scale beekeepers might focus their efforts on honey production, there are many other large scale beekeepers that partner with farmers for the purpose of pollination. These commercial beekeepers will transport their hives to wherever the farmer needs bees depending on which crops need pollination. 

Communication for Success

In any relationship, communication is vital! Through communication, beekeepers and farmers have the opportunity to prepare and plan for pesticide and insecticide applications on crop fields. When a beekeeper knows that a farmer is going to be applying chemicals to their crops, beekeepers have the ability to remove their bee hives from those fields to reduce the chance of those bees coming into contact with chemicals. Not only does this benefit the beekeeper as less bees will be affected by the chemicals but the farmer also benefits as there will be more bees available for crop pollination.  

Maintaining the relationship between farmers and beekeepers is mutually beneficial to both parties. Not only do the farmers benefit from larger yields of crops but the beekeepers also have the opportunity to receive payment for pollination services that are provided. Since 1/3 of the food we eat is impacted by pollinating insects like honeybees, don't forget to thank your local beekeepers and farmers that are responsible for providing us with delicious food for our tables! 

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