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Pollinators and Food Gardens

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. estimates that at least 75% of the world’s food crops depend, at least in part, on pollinators. Honey bees and a host of native bees, beetles, and butterflies are essential for pollinating vegetable and fruit crops on farms and in gardens across Maryland. For example, we would have no cucumbers, squashes, muskmelons, or pumpkins without bees.

Squash bees pollinate all cucumber family crops.
Photo credit: Jim Jasinski, Ohio State University Extension;

It takes 8-12 bee visits to fertilize enough ovules (baby seeds) to produce full-size fruits. Gardeners get smaller, fewer, and misshapen fruits when bees are unavailable to pollinate some other crops like eggplant, okra, pepper, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry.

Bumblebee drinking nectar from a basil flower.
Photo credit: Jon Traunfeld

What can I do?


Honey bee getting water from a blueberry flower.
A variety of native bees assist also assist in pollination.
Photo credit: Jason Gibbs, Michigan State University



Pollinators vital to our food supply under threat- FAO news release:

Attractiveness of Agricultural Crops to pollinating Bees for the Collection of Nectar and/or Pollen- USDA:

How to Attract and Conserve Pollinators and Natural Enemies in Your Garden- HGIC:


By Jon Traunfeld, Extension Specialist


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