Pollinators, including honey bees, help set the early blossoms of Nova Scotia fruits and vegetables. This helps grow larger and a more uniform product and helps increase the yield per acre. Although wild species of pollinators do this job, they are not a reliable source as their populations change year to years affected by similar challenges as the Honey Bee.
Why Use Honeybees?
Most wild species bees are solitary bees, meaning they don't gather in colonies, like the Honeybee. There are some wild species that do, with up to 50 - 100 adult bees per nest. One Honeybee Colony can be home up to 60,000+ adult bees. This is what makes them good pollinators, their sheer numbers, and the fact that they like to forage on what is close to their hive. They will fly up to 5 kilometers or more, if needed, but they like to be close to home. A well placed hive, with a large well established population of bees is why Honeybees are best for agricultural pollination service.
Do Honeybees Harm Wild Species?
Honeybees, as well as the wild species of bees, have a Proboscis or a "tongue" like structure that they use to suck up the nectar from a flower. Different bees have different lengths of tongue, which allows them to reach the nectar, or not depending on the flower structure. Meaning that some bees have a preference to forage on certain flowers. The Honeybee is considered a Medium Length as compared to a Bombus (Bumblebee) which is considered to have a Long Tongue Length.
So in a field of Red Clover, the Honeybee would have a challenge to reach the nectar, whereas the Bumblebee would not. A Honeybee could get to it, with some work, but honeybees are about efficiency and will forage on easily accessed nectar first, leaving it for the Bumblebee.
While it's true that a large commercial bee operation could drain the forage reserves in a forage area, Greenfield Hives & Honey practices Wild Species Conservation by providing nesting sites and plant forage appropriate for the wild bee species and we limit the size of our Yards to keep the population down to reduce any impact on wild species.
There is research showing that wild species and honeybees can cohabitate. Bees of all species increase the diversity and amount of forage in any area, the presence of one species does not imply a loss of the other. Farmers who increase the diversity of foraging areas such as grasslands, wetlands, woodlands near their farms, successfully increased both honey and native bee pollination.