Bees pollinate one-third of what? Do we really know?

Dear Readers,

Almost every day I read something like this: “One third of all the food we eat is pollinated by bees.” I just read it again today–twice. Some say “every third bite” which sounds like volume; some say “one-third of all crops” which sounds like a species count.

Please tell me about this one third. Is it one-third by weight, volume, calories, dollars, species, or some other measurement I haven’t thought of? I would like to know who came up with this number and how it was calculated. I would also like to know if they really mean bees, or if they mean pollinating insects, or all pollinating animals.

The thing is, it’s hard to defend an argument when you have no clue how the numbers were obtained. I’ve had several readers ask me where the one-third came from and it’s embarrassing not to know. It feels like that circle game where you keep passing on a message, and by the time the last person gets it, it’s totally garbled and nothing like the original.

If anyone can help, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. There are many other people waiting to hear the answer as well. Remember, we will never be persuasive in our bid to save pollinators, if we are not believable in our statistics. Please help me figure this out!

Rusty

One-third of what?
One-third of what?

Comments

Nancy
Reply

Rusty -

Oh.

Well, he’s the one that called them a sex toy. Anyway with bumble bee pollination, outdoors, I have as many tomatoes as I can sell. Thanks,

Nan

Megan Halcroft
Reply

Hello. I have used this article to support my arguments for conservation of bees. I gives dollar values and cites other articles that use the 1/3 analogy
http://www.step-project.net/files/DOWNLOAD2/cobi1962.pdf
I hope this is helpful, and not too late in the flow of discussion

Rusty
Reply

Megan,

Thank you for the link. And no, it’s not too late. I hear the one-third reference now more than ever!

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