Bee A Honey
by Victoria Vacher
Merriam-Webster describes "Bee" as: any of numerous hymenopterous insects (superfamily Apoidea) that differ from the related wasps especially in the heavier hairier body and in having sucking as well as chewing mouthparts, that feed on pollen and nectar, and that store both and often also honey.
Since the beginning of time humans have valued and used honey for everything from food to medicine. Beekeeping is portrayed in prehistoric paintings. Traces of beeswax have been found in shards of pottery over 9000 years old. Honey was discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs and it was still edible!
Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are not native to the United States. They were imported from Europe in the 1600's. The honeybee can now be found on every continent except Antarctica. Honeybees are essential to agriculture and in recent years scientists have declared the honeybee the most important living creature on earth. They are responsible for $15 billion dollars worth of crops each year. More than 130 fruits and vegetables rely on honeybees for pollination. Wild honeybees are endangered and some predictions warn that if the honeybees go, so do humans!
•One teaspoon of honey is equal to the entire life’s work of 12 honeybees!
•Only female bees can sting you.
•The queen bee only stings when fighting for dominance against another queen. When a queen stings, she does not die like a worker bee because her stinger is not barbed.
•Honeybees are typically docile. They can only sting once. Therefore they would rather not sting as they die after and only do so when threatened to protect the colony.
•The honeybee stinger is sharp, hollow and barbed. It is structured in such a manner that the bee cannot pull the stinger out without self-amputating which rips a hole in its abdomen. A wasp or a bumblebee can sting repeatedly as their stingers are smooth.
•The sting of the honeybee is generally more painful as the blades on the stinger alternate scissoring into your flesh and releasing a cell-destroying toxin.
•The scent of honeybee venom released upon stinging signals a threat to the hive. Weirdly, it smells like bananas.
•Each hive contains some 60,000-worker bees, a few hundred male drones and a single female queen bee that is larger than the other bees.
•All honeybees have a job determined by genetics and their age. Jobs include: forager bees, janitor bees, guard bees, nurse bees, undertaker bees, etc...
•In the fall the drones (male bees) are blocked from entering the hive by the female guard bees and left to die. Their only function is to fertilize a queen and become unnecessary to overwinter in the hive.
•The honeybees that tend to the queen never turn their backs to her so one way to find the queen can be to look for a circle of bees all facing inward. the queen is also larger than worker bees.
• Forager bees do what beekeepers call a waggle dance to direct other gatherers to the location of a good source of pollen or nectar.
•The queen bee can choose the gender of the eggs she lays. Because the females do all the work, there are usually many more female eggs.
•Honeybees have a very short and laborious life anywhere from 5 weeks to 5 months depending on the season. Bees living in the hive over winter have the longest lives.
• An exciting new trend is happening in America right now. A push is on to make vast expanses of lawn into areas for habitat and pollination. Clover lawns are making a resurgence. This undertaking is good for our earth because increasing the number of nectar producing plants benefits pollinators. It also decreases the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that are necessary to maintain a "perfect lawn". This trend could go a long way toward reducing pollution and helping the planet heal.
So my fellow naturalists…
My counsel is to plant more flowers!
I totally agree with Claude Monet, “I must have flowers, always and always!”