The Importance of Honeybee Pollination
The following text is from a two-page handout titled “The Importance of Honeybee Pollination,” which may be downloaded from
It was developed and published in 2014 by the UH Honeybee Project, College of
Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Lab Phone: (808) 956-2445. email:
Honeybees are perhaps the most important insect pollinator
for agriculture in the world, unfortunately, honeybee populations are in
decline, possibly due to a combination of pests, diseases, poor diet, and
pesticides. Bee pollination is critical to the production of many important
crops in Hawaii including, macadamia nuts, pumpkin, winter melon, coffee,
rambutan, lychee, and strawberries.
Honeybee pollination often results in an increase in fruit
yield, weight and overall quality of bee dependent crops.
Lychee—Fruit production can be increased 2 to 3 times with
the introduction of managed hives to the orchards. Many other tropical fruits
including rambutan and longan, also depend heavily on honeybee pollination.
Macadamia Nuts—Honeybees are the most common pollinator of
Macadamia nut and fruit set can increase up to 10 fold if bees are abundant in
Zucchini—Poor pollination results in misshapen fruits and
low yields in zucchini. At least one strong honeybee hive per acre is
Coffee—Coffee fruit set and fruit weight can increase up to
25 % through honeybee pollination.
Watermelon—A watermelon flower must receive 1000 pollen
grains to produce a marketable.
Pumpkin—Bees are the most important pollinators of vine
crops (pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc) and fruit weight increases
proportionally to the amount of pollen transferred to each flower.
In some cases honeybee pollination is not directly involved
in the yield increase, but rather helps produce seeds for future use.
Asparagus—The production of seeds for asparagus involves
pollination by bees. Honeybees visit the asparagus flowers to collect the
bright orange pollen and inadvertently help pollinate the plant.
Herbs—The flowers of basil, mint, lavender, and thyme are
extremely attractive to honeybees and the bee visitation contributes greatly to
the production of seed stock for these valuable herb species.
Carrots—Honeybees are essential for carrot seed production.
The recent decline of the populations has resulted in a high price for colony
rentals for pollination services and carrot farmers now pay up to $70 per hive
to pollinate carrots.
Broccoli—Honeybees are the primary pollinator of broccoli
flowers. The bees transport pollen from one plant to another ensuring
cross-pollination and high seed quality.
Outreach, Extension, and Education
The UH Honeybee Project is committed to working with the
stakeholders on the development of sustainable farming and beekeeping practices
that support a diversified agriculture in Hawaii.
Our program is working to disseminate information about
pesticide reduction strategies, as well as habitat modifications that promote
pollinator from the farm and garden.
You too can contribute to the conservation of honeybees and
other important pollinators by:
Using alternative methods for pest control. If you use
insecticides choose the least harmful pesticide formulations possible.
- Plant bee friendly plants, preferably native or non-invasive
species. Make sure there is always something blooming in your garden that can