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 the orchard.

Zucchini—Poor pollination results in misshapen fruits and low yields in zucchini. At least one strong honeybee hive per acre is recommended.

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 provide these.

If you require information in an Alternative format, please contact us at: