The honey bee is the most prolific pollinator

They do it the best!

The Buzz about Western Honey Bees in Nature

Bees are incredible creatures, and one kind of bee, the western honey bee, also known as Apis mellifera, is famous for the sweet honey they produce and their role in pollinating crops. But have you ever wondered what they do in the wild, away from the farms? We will explore the world of Apis mellifera in nature, away from the farms and managed habitats, and uncover the fascinating story of these bees and their impact on the plants and creatures around them.

Bees in the Garden
Bees in the Garden

Meet Apis mellifera

Let’s start by getting to know Apis mellifera better. These bees are amazing pollinators, which means they help plants make fruits and seeds. They are known as the most common visitors to flowers in the world, but what do they do when they’re not buzzing around our gardens and farms?

Apis mellifera in Natural Habitats

In the wild, Apis mellifera has an important role to play. To find out how they affect the world of plants and animals outside of farms, scientists gathered information from all over the world. They looked at 80 studies that showed which plants Apis mellifera visits and how often. Surprisingly, these studies revealed that Apis mellifera is a frequent visitor to many different kinds of wild plants. On average, they are responsible for about 13% of all the visits to flowers in these natural areas. However, the numbers vary a lot – sometimes they visit hardly at all, and in other places, they can be as much as 85% of the visitors!

Apis mellifera’s Favorites

Some plants are especially fond of Apis mellifera. In fact, about 5% of all plants rely only on Apis mellifera for pollination. This means that if these bees were to disappear, these plants might be in trouble because they can’t count on other pollinators. But, there’s a twist to this story. Not all plants are the same when it comes to these bees. In about 33% of the studied places and 49% of the plants, Apis mellifera never came for a visit. This shows that many plants depend on other kinds of pollinators to help them out. Apis mellifera might be common, but it’s not the only hero in the world of pollination!

What Makes Apis mellifera Tick?

Now, you might be wondering what makes Apis mellifera decide where to visit. It turns out that weather and location play important roles. These bees like to visit places with warm and stable weather. Just like us, they prefer sunny days over rainy ones. Also, Apis mellifera likes to hang out more on mainland areas than on islands. It seems that there are more flowers and resources for them to enjoy on the mainland. It doesn’t matter if they’re in their home country or if they’re in a new place, they still do their job in the wild.

Apis mellifera’s Effectiveness as a Pollinator

So, how good are Apis mellifera at their job? It turns out that they do okay but not better than other pollinators. When scientists looked at how good they are at pollinating, Apis mellifera was just about as good as the average non-Apis mellifera visitor. This means that each visit by these bees doesn’t make much of a difference compared to other visitors. However, there are other pollinators that are better at the job than Apis mellifera. It’s like they are good workers but not the best ones in the team!

What Does It All Mean?

The story of Apis mellifera in the wild has important lessons for us. It tells us that these bees are not just important in our farms; they also play a role in the wild. Their presence and behavior in natural environments can affect the plants and animals around them. This knowledge helps us understand how changes in the number and location of Apis mellifera can impact the natural world.

Bee on a Yellow flower
Honey Bee on Yellow Flower

In conclusion, Apis mellifera, the western honey bee, is more than just a sweet producer of honey. They are vital pollinators, not only in farms but also in the wild. While they might not be the best pollinators in the natural world, they have an important place in the circle of life. Understanding their role helps us take better care of our environment, ensuring that both plants and pollinators thrive in their natural habitats.


Presentation at Celina Garden Club

June 24, 2024 | Save The Bees USA recently had the pleasure of presenting to the Celina Garden Club during…
Cottonwood Tree

Cottonwood Trees and Bees – An American Love Story

By Rebecca Ohlin Dive into the fascinating world of cottonwood trees and their indispensable role in supporting bee populations. Often…
Observation Bee Hive Project

The Buzzing World of Observation Hives in Schools

Welcome, busy bees, to an exciting journey into the world of observation hives at schools! Save the Bees USA is…
1 2 4 5

Share article

Save the Bees USA




  • join our online communities


Copyright© 2024 Save the Bees USA. All rights reserved.