LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Apples, peaches and pears — just some of the many fruits at Gilcrease Orchard that fuel the farm and provide for our community.

But Mark Ruben, director of the orchard, says it doesn’t happen without a major assist from bees.

“So we make a hive for them. We give them some sugar water so they can start developing their own comb and their own honey,” Ruben said.

Bees are an important part of Gilcrease Orchard. They help carry pollen between blossoms — a key step in fertilizing fruit trees.

“In February, we have the flowering. Especially the peaches, they start first and then the plums and apricots. And they flower and you’ll see the bees on there on a warm day,” Ruben said.

Patrick Donnelly, the Great Basin Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said protecting bees is crucial. Donnelly has been following Assembly Bill 221 (AB221), which would protect bees and butterflies under the wildlife classification in Nevada.

Currently these pollinators aren’t managed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) or any state agency.

Donnelly said if the bill is passed, NDOW can determine what needs to be done to protect bees, whether it’s the vegetation bees get pollen/nectar or more.

“There’s a lot we don’t know about which bees or butterflies live in Nevada and what their conservation status is,” Donnelly said. “I think the other big one is habitat restoration and taking measures to promote better habitat for pollinators.”

Donnelly said insect populations are vulnerable and this bill would help preserve our environment and food supply.

“Without a desert ecosystem, Nevada is just a pile of dust and we know it’s a biodiverse place and insects are the cornerstone of those ecosystems,” he said.

The committee deadline for AB221 is a few weeks away. If the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources passes it, the bill will head to the Assembly floor.