In the U. K. honey bees are responsible for pollinating around a third of crops that require animal pollination. The other 2/3 are pollinated by bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies. As for wild flowers, well honey bees pollinate just 3% of these, the rest are pollinated by our native pollinators - bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies, and hundreds of other insects that largely go unnoticed and unstudied.
In south China, because of the almost complete disappearance of bees in some places, the pear and apple crop now have to be pollinated by hand with a tiny paintbrush.
Honeybees are generally thought of as the most
common pollinator, and they are the most widely studied, but bumblebees are the
chief pollinators of red clover, alfalfa, field beans, peas, runner beans, tomatoes and in some areas cotton,
raspberries, apple, plum blossom, oilseed rape, sunflowers, strawberries, currants and brambles.
In Norwegian orchards honeybee pollination
is usually limited by low temperatures, so bumblebees are the chief pollinators
there, and in other Scandinavian countries bumblebees will forage 24 hours a
day in the long days of summer.
Also bumblebees will pollinate flowers that do not produce nectar, whereas honeybees will not. Just look at the photograph on the right. No other animal can pollinate "difficult" flowers like antirrhinum except big, fat, hairy bumblebees. They have to learn how to get at the nectar located at the bottom of the gullet-shaped flower. And even once they know where it is they have to push their way between the petals to get at it. On the way down to the nectar they pollinate the flower and pick up more pollen. This bumblebee is still quite early in her foraging trip as we can see from the small load of pollen she has loaded into her pollen basket.