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The specialist international beekeeping organisation

Bees plants & pollination

Bees and flowering plants have a mutually dependent relationship which has developed over the millennia in a way that benefits both the the plants and the insects; they both need each other.

The bees' food is provided entirely by the plants they visit. To attract the bees to the plant (and consequently as a reward for their pollination services) plants provide bees with nectar and pollen.  Nectar is a food source rich in energy, and pollen is a source of protein, used by young bees. Honey bees turn the nectar into honey and store the pollen in the cells of the honeycomb.  Storing food allows honey bees to survive in times of scarcity and across a wide range of habitats and climatic conditions, making the honey bee one of the earth's most adaptable species.


 While honey bees and other insects are visiting flowers to feed, they spread pollen from one plant to another.  This enables flowers to be fertilised and for seeds and fruit to form.  People benefit greatly from the natural relationship between bees and plants. Insect pollination is the mechanism that allows us to harvest crops and seeds throughout the world and people frequently harvest surplus honey stored by bees. Other wildlife is sustained also so people are enriched in other ways too.

In most developing countries the main honey sources come from trees so the forest resources available to beekeepers are central to the amount of honey they are able to collect.  Beekeepers can protect their honey harvest by protecting the trees and plants that give the bees both food and shelter.  Many honey bearing trees have other useful purposes as well, so protecting trees not only helps the bees, but also improves and preserves the local environment and enhances other strands of the bee farmers' livelihood.


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