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August 20, 2018

Honey Bees Are Not the Only Pollinators in Agriculture

As National Honey Bee Day passes, we are recognizing the role of pollinators in agriculture and another powerful pollinator besides the honey bee.

National Honey Bee Day was this past Saturday, and these pollinators are an important part of our country’s ag industry. In fact, honey bees are the largest group of pollinators in agriculture and are responsible for $15 billion in U.S. agricultural crops annually. It is estimated that pollinators, primarily bees, pollinate 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants. Another less well known, but important pollinator is the hoverfly. 

The hoverfly is one of the most underrated pollinators in agriculture; a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) publication maintains that hoverflies may be the second-most prolific pollinator behind bees.

Amazing Facts About Hoverflies and their Role as Pollinators in Agriculture

  1. There are over 6,000 different species of hoverfly world-wide. It doesn’t match the 20,000 species of bees, but it still makes for many different kinds of hoverflies. They vary in size and appearance, with some being much smaller than honey bees, and others being larger.
  2. Most hoverflies resemble bees in appearance. The majority of hoverflies are black-and-yellow striped to resemble bees and wasps. It’s a physical adaptation called mimicry; predators leave hoverflies alone because they think they are stinging insects like bees and wasps.
  3. Hoverflies have no stingers. While people assume that hoverflies are some kind of stinging insect because of their stripes, hoverflies have no stinger at all. However, as an added defense, some species have the ability to mimic the stinging action of a wasp if they are caught and held.
  4. Hoverflies are found on every continent except Antarctica. The southern frozen continent is not a favorite locale of most insects; there are no bees there either!
  5. Hoverflies are so named because of their ability to hover like a helicopter or hummingbird while in flight. It is not a common trait among insects. Hoverflies also have the ability to fly backwards.
  6. Hoverflies have just one set of functional wings. Most insects, like bees, have two sets of functional wings.
  7. Hoverfly pollination occurs by happenstance. Hoverflies are not visiting flowers to gather pollen for their larvae like bees do. They go to drink nectar and accidentally get pollen on their bodies which they transport to the next flower during feeding.

AgAmerica Lending is a proponent of protecting our pollinators because they work to help farmers cultivate the land. We’ve shared in the past how farmers help protect our pollinators and knowing a little more about another important pollinator, the hoverfly, can only help encourage efforts to sustain our pollinators. If you’re looking for other ways to help sustain the health of your operation, explore how our custom land loan packages are tailor-made to help those in the ag industry grow and succeed by contacting us today to speak with a knowledgeable team member.

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