Why We Care About Bees and You Should Too
It is said that every 3rd mouthful of food is produced by bees pollinating crops. Flowering plants rely on bees for pollination so that they can produce fruit and seeds. Although honey bees do not pollinate all plants, flowering plants require an insect or animal of some kind. One of the main reasons it is important to avoid using pesticides and buy organic food is to reduce the number of pollinator populations killed in the process of pest control. There are additional health concerns with the use of pesticides, but that is another subject for another day!
What are some things you can do for the bee population?
Plant wild flowers and herbs! Honey bees love small flowers and flowers from common wild flowers and weeds. Reserve a small patch for your yard for wild flower and weeds or plant some flowers in some pots! You can see a list of flowers honey bees like here.
You can also avoid using pesticides in your yard and garden. Try using natural alternatives to balance over population of obnoxious bugs.
Buy local honey! You can help keep populations strong by buying local honey. Plus, it is believed local honey can help defend your body from allergies. Watch what you buy, some honey is nothing more than sugar or corn syrup!
Lastly, if you do see a honey bee hive, don’t spray it!!! Bees often swarm in the spring. When they swarm (big cloud of bees) it looks intimidating, but they are actually at their most docile state. Typically they are looking for a new place to start a hive and will move within a few hours or a few days. If they do stick around, contact your local bee keepers association, you are sure to find someone who will come and remove it when possible.
Fun Bee Facts!
There are three kinds of bees in a hive: Queen, Worker and Drone.
Only the Queen in the hive lays eggs. She communicates with her hive with her own special scent called pheromones. The queen will lay around 1,500 eggs per day.
The worker bees are all female and they do all the work for the hive. Workers perform the following tasks inside the hive as a House Bee: Cleaning, feeding the baby bees, feeding and taking care of the queen, packing pollen and nectar into cells, capping cells, building and repairing honeycombs, fanning to cool the hive and guarding the hive.
Workers perform the following tasks outside the hive as Field Bees: Gathering nectar and pollen from flowers, collecting water and a sticky substance called propolis.
Bees carry pollen on their hind legs called a pollen basket. Pollen is a source of protein for the hive and is needed to feed to the baby bees to help them grow.
Bees communicate through chemical scents called pheromones and through special bee dances.
About the Honey
Bees have two stomachs - one stomach for eating and the other special stomach is for storing nectar collected from flowers or water so that they can carry it back to their hive.
Honey has natural preservatives and bacteria can't grow in it.
Nectar is a sweet watery substance that the bees gather. After they process the nectar in their stomach they regurgitate it into the honeycomb cells. Then they fan with their wings to remove excess moisture. The final result is honey.
Honey was found in the tombs in Egypt and it was still edible! Bees have been here around 30 million years.
About the Wax
The bees use their honeycomb cells to raise their babies in, and to store nectar, honey, pollen and water.
Beeswax is produced by the bees. Bees have special glands on their stomach that secrete the wax into little wax pockets on their stomach. The bee takes the wax and chews it with her mandibles and shapes it to make honeycomb.
People have discovered the anti-bacterial properties of propolis for use in the medical field.
If you are interested in this topic, here is a more in depth article