Interesting Facts About Bees

Image of African Honeybee

The Importance Of Honey Bees

Honey bees are a significant revenue generator for American agriculture. Honey, pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, propolis, and venom are among the six hive products produced by these social and hardworking insects. They are all collected and used by humans for various nutritional and medicinal purposes.

The most well-known and economically significant hive product is honey. Honey bees produced 157 million pounds of honey in 2019. With honey costing $1.97 per pound, the total value is just over $339 million. Honey bees are most important to agriculture for reasons that have nothing to do with the hive. It’s their job to pollinate crops. Honey bees are estimated to be worth between 10 and 20 times the total value of honey and beeswax in terms of agricultural benefit.

Bee pollination adds about $15 billion to the value of crops. Honey bees buzzing over American crops are like flying dollar bills. 1 Go To Source fda.gov -“Helping Agriculture’s Helpful Honey Bees”

15 Interesting Honey Bee Facts

Picture of worker bumble bee

  1. A bee will die if its stinger is lost.
  2. Drones are the male bees in the hive.
  3. Pollen is carried in a pollen basket, or corbicula, by bees on their hind legs.
  4. Worker bees are female bees in the hive (except the queen).
  5. Bees have a total of five eyes.
  6. To make one pound of honey, foragers must collect nectar from approximately 2 million flowers.
  7. Around 50,000 bees can be found in an average beehive.
  8. Bees have been around for roughly 30 million years.
  9. In her lifetime, the average forager produces about a tenth of a teaspoon of honey.
  10. In the United States, the average per capita consumption of honey is 1.3 pounds.
  11. The wings of a bee are divided into two pairs.
  12. Because bees are insects, they have six legs.
  13. The highest number of eggs laid by a queen is 2,000 per day.
  14. Bees fly at a speed of about 20 miles per hour.
  15. Chemicals called pheromones are the primary means of communication among honey bees.2 Go To Source honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov -“Honeybees”

Declining Bee Populations

Picture of hive affected by colony collapse disorder

In the 1600s, colonists brought European honey bees to North America. Feral bee populations began to displace some of the estimated 4000 native bee species as many of these bees escaped into the wild. Throughout the twentieth century, these feral honey bees pollinated the county’s expanding agricultural industry. Two parasitic mite species were accidentally introduced from Asia in the 1990s. Within a few years, the tracheal mite and the varroa mite had decimated honey bee populations. Chemical pesticides were used to control parasitic mites on managed bees, significantly increasing the costs of large beekeeping operations.

At the same time, the population of feral honey bees has plummeted. A rise in the demand for contracted pollination services has resulted from a decrease in natural pollinators combined with increased agricultural production. In order to provide needed pollinators when crops are in bloom, honey bee hives are loaded onto trucks and transported from their winter homes to areas of agricultural production each spring.

The spread of honey bee diseases and hive pests is thought to be linked to the movement of honey bee hives and colony collapse disorder. 3 Go To Source uaex.edu -“The importance of pollinators”

Colony Collapse Disorder Affecting Bees

Colony Collapse Disorder (CDC) occurs when a colony’s majority of worker bees disappear, leaving behind a queen, plenty of food, and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. CCD, which was once thought to be a major long-term threat to bees, has seen a significant drop in reported cases over the last five years.

Since 2006-2007, the number of hives that do not survive the winter months (an overall indicator of bee health) has remained stable at around 28.7% but dropped to 23.1 percent in 2014-2015. While winter losses remain high, the number of casualties attributed to CCD has decreased from roughly 60% of total hives lost in 2008 to 31.1 percent in 2013. 4 Go To Source epa.gov -“Colony Collapse Disorder”

 

 

Sources:

  1. “Helping Agriculture’s Helpful Honey Bees.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/helping-agricultures-helpful-honey-bees. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.
  2. Nickeson, Jamiei. “Bee Facts.” NASA, NASA, 21 Nov. 2016, honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Honeybees/Basics.htm.
  3. “The Importance of Pollinators.” U Of A Division Of Agriculture, University Of Arkansas, www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/special-programs/beekeeping/pollinators.aspx. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.
  4. “Colony Collapse Disorder.” US EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.