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The Fruit of their Labors- Tree Grown Fruitrients and Berries.
Honey Bee on Spanish Needles
Bees(t) of Burden
Bees, the flying fanatics of flower fertility, are among the most industrious insect species. They of course are not the only hard-working insects. Solomon, the third king of ancient biblical era Israel, was impressed with the ant’s diligence. Nevertheless, we do not describe very active people as being busy an ant. We speak of them as being busy as a bee.
The European Honey Bee, Apis Millifera stand out among the estimated 20,000 bee species. They are both active and adaptable. The honey bees can survive temperate climate zones unlike their tropical/sub tropical kin. This gives them the flexibility to pollinate the apple, cranberry, and blueberry that prefer cooler regions and the tropical sun loving orange. The honey bees are not specialist unlike the aptly named alfalfa bee. They will pollinate anything from petunias to pear tree blossoms.
Bees in the trees
The honeybees' pollination of flower gardens is commonly known. Yet, this is just a part of their pollination efforts. They also pollinate fruit bearing trees. The pollinator aviators are not content to stay near the ground. They ascend the heights needed to nurture blossoms attached to trees. These bees are bold. They are not afraid to go out on a (tree) limb.
The old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" may well be rewritten to state "many types of apples per day keep the doctor away." Apples used for commercial purposes span an estimated 100 varieties. The market though, is dominated by less than a dozen of these reddish gems. Gala, Granny Smith and Delicious are three of the five types that comprise most American grown apples. Regardless of kind, honey bee pollination account for 90% of the apples we eat.
The apple is the source of favorites such as apple cider, applesauce and apple butter. The apple itself proves to be an invaluable source of fiber. A single apple (2 1/2" diameter) contains nearly 15% of the recommended daily allowance (r.d.a.) of dietary fiber. Furthermore, the apple includes soluble and insoluble fiber. Pectins, a type of soluble fiber help reduce cholesterol build up thus lowering the risk of atheroslerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber helps to keep bodies "regular." The honey bees keep our precious apples and their benefits available.
According to legend, George Washington, America's first president, confessed to cutting down a cherry tree. It seems the legend doesn't mention if the tree's cherries were sweet or sour. A tree with sweet cherries is self-unfruitful, meaning that pollination is not possible between flowers on the same tree. A tree that bears sour cherries is self-fruitful whereby pollination is possible between cherries on the same tree. Regardless, of their fruitfulness or lack thereof, honey bees account for a range between 80%-90% of cherry pollination.
The sweet variety is a good source, (one cup 20% suggested daily requirement) of vitamin A which aids vision among other benefits. The sour kind is a tremendous resource of vitamin A whereby one cup holds nearly 1/2 the amount required.within a day. The sweet choice has the anti-oxidant beta carotene, known for its cancer fighting properties. The sour counterpart provides denser concentrations of this same element. Life without honey bees would be a bowl of no cherries
Oranges grown in the U.S. are not as dependent upon honey bees as other fruit examined in this article. Also, members of the orange clan (oranges, tangerines) come to American stores from tropical international destinations where other pollinators contribute to their production. Yet, the bees' pollination effort, responsible for nearly 30% of home grown oranges, is significant. America produces close to double the tonnage amount of oranges than it does apples their nearest rival.
We as consumers enjoy the taste of fresh oranges, orange juices, and other orange flavored products. We also benefit from their nutritional value. A single California Valencia specimen (2-5/8" diameter) provides 2/3 of the daily requirement of vitamin C. The label of a major orange juice brand reveals that a single 8 ounce glass (100% juice) includes 120% of vitamin C, 10% of the potassium and 15% of the folic acid required in a day. The three nutrients play an integral role in cardiovascular health. The immunity boosting properties of vitamin C also lie within oranges. Bees bring us nutrients fronTthe orchards.
The pear is a popular fruit that prefers a temperate climate in which to grow. Washington, Oregon and New York are among the states that lead America in pear production. In fact, this writer has the good fortune to receive pears from his brother's pear tree located in a Midwestern big city back yard.
The pear tree is pollinated by a variety of insects. However, for those among us without pear trees in our yards, honey bee pollination is important. The flying fruit bearing flower pollinators account for 60%-70% of pear pollination. The pear is actually a better source of dietary fiber than the highly touted apple. We need the honey bees help to get the virtually 20% of R.D.A.. of dietary fiber contained within a medium sized (5-6 ounces) pear. We 'apearantly' need bees.
The plum presents distinct challenges to commercial harvesting. Plum trees typically grow one to five years before flowers bloom. Also, plum experts identify most trees as self-unfruitful, (see Cherry bees/trees 2) It takes two plum trees to do the pollination tangle. Whereas other insects pollinate plum tree flowers, honey bees remain the most vital to plum mass pollination. They account for more than 60% of all plum tree pollination.
We eat and drink the fruit of plumllination (plum tree pollination) via plums, prunes and prune juices. We benefit from the essential nutrients delivered by these sources. Prune juice is a significant source of potassium, fiber and iron. A six ounce glass contains 14% of the potassium, over 1/4 the daily requirement of iron. Potassium is a mineral of significant importance for overall health and is key to the maintenance of blood pressure. Iron, as we know helps us keep the pep in our step.Think plums, thank bees.
Great Blue Heron in Flight Over a Cranberry Bog
Bees and Berries
The Vaccinium genus is a family of hardy plants that thrive growing in poor soil (acidic) and temperate climates. The tough vegetation found in this group actually prefers cooler regions. Its members include bilberry, blueberry, cranberry, and huckleberry among others. The blueberry and cranberry crop are highly dependent upon honey bee pollination. As such, the honey bees prove indispensable toward preventing a vaccinium vacancy in our kitchens.
The blueberry divides itself among several species. The high brush variety is the type sold most often in stores for eating fresh out of the package. Blueberry flavor is a popular additive to a wide range of foods. Juices, yogurt, cereals, jellies, jams and of course blueberry pies are flavored with this delicious berry. The blueberries from which such tasty treats are derived depend upon honey bees for 90% of their pollination. Americans consume an estimated 850 pounds of this delicious delight as of the latest year for which statistics are available.
The blueberry is also good for us. It inhabits several lists of super foods due to its nutritional value. The blueberry combats cancer, protects heart health and stabilizes blood sugar. The 20%+ required daily amount of vitamin C and 10% of dietary fiber available in a 5 ounce cup of blueberries can take some credit for these results. The antioxidant allotment packs the cancer fighting punch. Big nutrients come in small packages. The package is not delivered by U.P.S.,United Parcel Service but rather U.B.S., United Bee Service.
The cranberry like its relatives grows in less than ideal conditions. It grows in bogs, swamp like habitats that are located in America’s cooler regions. The cranberry is then harvested in autumn. It is a rugged berry.
When the plants are tough, the pollinators are tougher. The relatively mild mannered (as compared to other bees) honey bees possess the grit to provide 90% or more of the pollination that enables cranberry delights to adorn our festive holiday tables.
Flavanoids are compounds derived from plants that serve their host in many ways. People who eat flavanoid filled flora also benefit. The cranberry contains flavanoids that help lowers LDL (low-density lipoprotein) the "bad" cholesterol that can clog arteries and thus cause Atherosclerosis which dangerously restricts blood flow. The berry and juice harbor these elements. The honey bees bring heart healthy ingredients to our holiday meals.
Bees, both wild and domesticated, face the danger of extinction. The onset of an ailment known as Colony Collapse Disorder, (C.C.D.) a terror for which multiple causes are suspected, is attributed to the deadly winter of 2007-2008 in which 750,000-1,000,000 bees perished in the U.S. alone. Brazil and China, two other leading food exporters also reported large losses that season.
Bees, unlike the Polar Bear, the iconic symbol of animal lovers, tree huggers and environmentalist alike, would prove to be a very in our face absence. The figurative fruit of their labor provides approximately 1/3 of all food that Americans eat. Furthermore, their efforts have an international value of more than $200,000,000,000. It isn't hyperbole to proclaim C.C.D. an epidemic dangerous to human health and welfare. Bees have proven by the fruit of their labor that they are worth saving.