As the plants and flowers bloom this Spring you will hear more and more buzzing of the bees as they emerge from their cozy hives to pollinate these natural blooming beauties. Bees have been around for millions of years, and are similar to sharks in that they are almost perfectly designed and haven’t needed to evolve much since prehistoric times. These busy little creatures are absolutely astonishing in their extraordinary abilities and are vital to pollination. While some crops are pollinated by the wind, most are pollinated by bees. Sadly, populations of our wild bee’s are declining due in part to habitat loss and pesticide use. It is important for us to understand that we need bees in order for the human race to continue to thrive and that they are an essential part of our precious eco system.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists report that over the past 130 years several species of North American bees are emerging about 10 days earlier due to the Earth’s warming climate.
“85% of the world’s plant species are pollinated by animals, and bees are widely thought to be the main animal pollinators,” says Rachael Winfree, an entomologist at Rutgers University and a co-author of the study. “Therefore, if we lost bees, we would eventually lose most of the world’s plant species. In addition, 75% of the world’s crop plant species are pollinated by animals, again mostly by bees.”
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” – Albert Einstein
Here are some important facts about bees and honey:
- There are three types of bees in the hive – Queen, Worker and Drone.
- The Queen may lay 600-800 or even 1,500 eggs each day during her 3 or 4 year lifetime. This daily egg production may equal her own weight. She is constantly fed and groomed by attendant worker bees.
- Honey bees are the only insect that produce food eaten by man.
- Honey bees will usually travel approximately 3 miles from their hive.
- Honey bees are the only bees that die after they sting.
- Honey bees fly at 15 miles per hour.
- Honey bees’ wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.
- A hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1 kg of honey.
- Their sense of smell is so precise that it could differentiate hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carried pollen or nectar from meters away.
- Honey bees are responsible for pollinating approximately 80% of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.
- Honey bees have five eyes, 3 small ones on top of the head and two big ones in front. They also have hair on their eyes!
- Bees communicate with each other by dancing and by using pheromones (scents).
- Nectar supplies bees with the carbohydrates that give them the energy to fly.
- Pollen provides protein in the honey bee diet and is important for building new bodies.
- Honeybees never sleep!
- Honey contains antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties.
- Honey is the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain function.
- Honey can help improve digestion, helping you stay healthy and fight disease.
- Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water.
- The glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy.
- Honey is a miracle food; it never goes bad. Archaeologists found 2,000 year old jars of honey in Egyptian tombs and reported they still tasted delicious!