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Non-Native Honeybee Pollination May Decrease the Quality of Seeds Over Time

Recently, researchers have observed that the quality of seeds from flowers pollinated by honeybees is decreasing. Pollinators hunt for flowers in search of nectar and pollen. They are important to the food system since they help produce seeds for the ecosystem.

The seeds’ poor outcome could be because honeybees tend to spend their time going from flower to flower within the same plant, transferring pollen back into itself and resulting in inbred seeds. The study was conducted by ecologists Joshua Kohn and Dillion Travis from the University of California.

The bees that were most prominent in the study were honeybees that are not native to the United States. Non-native species are outnumbering native species of pollinators. The study showed that non-native pollinators took pollen away from native plant species and spread it to other plants of the same species, resulting in negative outcomes for native plants.

The more that honeybees are taking pollen from a plant and transferring it back to itself, the more inbred seeds are created. This leads to the seeds becoming weaker than they already are. This is a very concerning phenomenon and is difficult to analyze and determine how it will play out later on for the environment.

Focusing on the poor seed quality is an important conversation rather than only focusing on honeybees, as non-native bees are here to stay and play a bigger role in the food chain. Producing more native species of plants is one way to help but there are many other ways to help native pollinators and plants. We should continue to talk about improving our biodiversity. If conversations focus on introducing more pollinators, there could be a lot more positive changes to the environment.

[Sources: Science News]

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