To grow a watermelon, you need three key ingredients (besides soil and watermelon seeds, of course): sunlight, water, and bees. The first two necessities should come as no surprise, but the last one might sound a little unusual.

You see, bees buzz from blossom to blossom, picking up pollen and spreading it around throughout the day. They do this in one of two ways: Either by carrying the pollen to another flower themselves or by transferring the pollen to other bees in the hive, who then transport the pollen during their daily routine.

And it’s not just watermelon that bees bring to life. They actually play a role in a third of the foods that we eat! More than 100 agricultural crops in the U.S. are pollinated by bees of all types, including honeybees (the busiest of the bee population), bumblebees and solitary bees.

Some foods can’t exist without the hard work of bees. Watermelon is one of these category four “essential” crops, along with cantaloupe, cocoa and vanilla. Other crops, like cucumbers, apples, mangos, avocados, pears and almonds, are category three foods, meaning that bees play a great role in their pollination.

To be fair, I should point out that our buzzing buddies aren’t alone in their pollination duties. They get a little help from flies, beetles and butterflies, but bees certainly perform the lion’s share of the task.

So, the next time you’re enjoying some watermelon in the backyard, and you see a bee going about its everyday tasks, pause for a moment to offer thanks. I’m not sure how to communicate gratitude to a bee, but a simple smile and nod should do.

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