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The Incredible Honey Bee...A Luxury Bug
I once heard that Albert Einstein said that if all the honey bees in the world were to disappear then it would be the end of mankind. Now, I am that kind of person that when someone makes a statement I usually respond with: “And you base that on what?”
A little research will show that honey bees pollenate around 80 different crops. This can range from fruits like blueberries to nuts like almonds. However, notice that fruits and nuts though extremely good and good for you are not necessary. These are luxury crops. In fact, the only food crops that the honey bee pollinates are crops that we can essentially do without. They do not pollenate grasses or grains like barely, wheat, corn or millet. These crops would sustain us if the honey bee were to disappear, but imagine how bland oatmeal would be without honey to put on it.
The honey bee is an interesting and I would dare say a royal creature. She is the workhorse of the flying insect world like the ant is to the crawling world. However, she is royal in nature by the by products of her labor. What would life be like without watermelons and cantaloupes on a hot summer day? Imagine life without cherries, strawberries, pears and apples…no apples, no apple pie. That would be un-American (for us Americans that is).
Granted, there are other insects that could pollenate these like the little black bee in America who is native to the area, however not to the degree and scope as a hive of honey bees. Black bees have not had the inroads that the honey bee has enjoyed. They are also very hard, if not impossible to keep in a hive. Bumble bees, though a pollinator as well usually have a hive of around one hundred ladies in the house as opposed to tens of thousands of honey bees per hive. No other bee except the honey bee exists in the concentration like the honey bee.
In the northern European countries the honey from these regal creatures was used to make mead. Mead is a drink made from fermented honey. Basically it is honey wine. The taste is (to me) like a combination of whisky and wine. In the northern most parts of Europe grapes did not grow so wine could not be made. However, honey bees did exist and they made honey. So the Norsemen made their honey-wine called mead. Mead was a staple drink. You find it at the center of the tables in mead halls. Remember reading Beowulf in school? They were in the mead halls. They were drinking mead. Wonder if they ever lifted a mug to the majestic honey bee?
Though life would continue without the majestic honey bee, many industries would suffer and probably collapse. Our lifestyle would be drastically altered. Luxuries that we now enjoy would be gone or so expensive that they would be appreciated by only the very rich. Beautiful flowers would not be as abundant and spring time would be less dramatic. So next time you see a honey bee busily conducting her daily duties, pause and thank God for His creation of the noble honey bee.