Quirks & Quarks

Bees are disappearing - can pollinating flies pick up the slack?

Flies do pollinate, but they cannot fill this niche because they are not equipped to be as efficient pollinators as bees.

You ask the questions. We find the answers.

Syrphid flies pollinating a Wild Prairie Rose. (Krista Lundgren/USFWS)

We know that bees — especially honeybees and bumblebees — are extremely important pollinators. But there are many other insect pollinators around, including flies.

Dr. Amro Zayed, York Research Chair in Genomics from the Department of Biology at York University, suggests that even though flies can pollinate, they are not equipped to be as efficient as bees.

With that in mind, flies could not fill that niche in the wake of declining bee populations. However, flies are the exclusive pollinators of cacao, which is where chocolate comes from.    

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