Information About Honey Bees
Honey Bees at Work
Honey Bees are Buzzing
Honey bees are buzzing as they go about their work of taking care of the queen and her offspring. The worker bees are females and it is their lifetime career to nurture the bees in the hive. The bee hive can be thought of as a matriarchal society. The sole purpose of the male bee is to mate with virgin queens. The male bee has no other responsibilities or duties.
Depending on the time of the year a hive may have 20,000 to 80,000 bees. The population is greater in warmer months.
Bees enjoy warm and sunny days for collecting pollen. If it is raining and you happen to be standing next to a bee hive you will hear a loud droning sound by the bees expressing their anger. Honey bees do not like rainy weather.
Honey Bee Enjoyings a Sip of Nectar
Bees are attracted to flowers because of their shape, fragrance, and color. The bees favor colors which reflect ultraviolet rays such as yellow, white, and blue. They gather nectar and pollen from the flowers which will be taken into the hive. The nectar feeds all bees, and the pollen is doubled as food for the young bees and to strengthen the wax walls of the hive.
The nectar is broken down into honey and is capped into the honey comb. This is backup food in the event that the worker bees cannot find a fresh supply of nectar.
When food is scarce beekeepers add jars of sugar water near the hives to help them survive. This is temporary help as the sugar is poor in nutritional value. Nectar from the flowers have nutrients which is healthier for the bees.
There are many varieties of flowers from which bees can harvest nectar. Plants which can provide many flowers on a stem enable bees to gather more nectar in a shorter period of time. They will also have less flying time searching for nectar and traveling from one singular flower to another. An example is the hyssop flower. Flowering trees and fruit trees with thousands of blossoms are very helpful. Think of it as one stop shopping. Nonetheless, a variety of flowers is healthier than one source.
Some popular varieties to add to the garden for bees include cone flowers, sunflowers, black-eyed susans, clover, yarrow, and goldenrod.
Benefits of Honey Bees
Honey bees are important because these insects are needed to pollinate flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Bees help with the production of food sources for human beings and feed for animals.
Clothing, household items, and personal items are made from plants and the flowers of these plants also need to be pollinated to continue their existence. Popular plants which are utilized for making textiles include cotton, flax, hemp, jute, and ramie. Fibers can also be gathered from trees.
Jars of Honey
There is only one honey, but two methods of preparation.
- Processed honey has been filtered, pasteurized, and heated. This is the honey which is found in grocery stores.
- Pure raw honey is gathered and separated from the bee hive and placed into containers. Raw honey contains amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Raw honey is fat, cholesterol, and sodium free. This honey is sold in health food stores, farmers markets, and wherever fresh produce is sold.
Raw Honey Health Benefits
- Eliminate, minimize, or prevent the effects of allergies, upper respiratory infections, and sore throats
- Seemingly fights the negative effects of bacteria, fungus, and some virus infections.
- Apply externally to heal wounds and lessen scars
- Boosts energy and helps maintain stamina
- Some people swear that it prevents cancer, diabetes, and certain diseases, however, this is not scientifically proven.
"The honey bee population in the United States has been declining for decades. The number of managed U.S. honey bee colonies dropped from 6 million in 1947, to just 2.5 million today." United States Department of Agriculture, 2014.
A Healthy Beehive
Honey Bees Are Dying
Honey bees are dying and those people in agriculture as well as home gardeners are very concerned about this dilemma. Bees help to pollinate plants and in return plants give human beings life. The simple fact is no bees…no life on this planet.
Farmers in different states have noticed a high percentage of their bee populations dying. These farmers feel that pesticides and monocultures (acres of same crop grown every year on the same acreage; wheat, apples, and grapes are three examples) are suspect for the bees and other pollinators disappearing.
The farmers are aware that when you grow the same crop in the same space for years the soil will be depleted of its nutrients. The synthetic fertilizers will help plants to grow, but they do not feed or nourish the soil. One of the ways to replenish the soil is to plant a different type of crop.
The farmers feel that the neonicotinoids ( a systemic pesticide derived from nicotine) are to blame for the bee deaths. Beekeepers, environmentalists, and scientists feel that the neonicotinoids are crippling the reproduction rate of the queen bee, and interrupting the navigation and communication skills of these insects.
In a special television documentary, farmers were shown installing hundreds of crates of bees into the fields to pollinate their crops. By the end of the week there was no trace of the bees.
While farmers try to solve their problems the home gardener can also help by limiting the use of insecticides, pesticides, and other chemicals which are sprayed, watered, or used in and on the plants and the land.
We need to offset man-made chemicals with natural feedings to the soil. The soil needs organic feedings to produce healthy plants.