#savethebees – The Beekeeper’s Favorite Subject

Daniel Woodruff, the hero of Mostly Magic, is a master beekeeper and he would definitely approve of me sharing some fascinating facts about bees with you in an effort to #savethebees. In fact, I bet these are the kind of facts he shares when, as Jamie, his nine-year-old assistant beekeeper, would say, he “speechifies” about bees. The more you know, the more you will respect these fabulous creatures.

  • The honey bee species (Apis Mellifera) is 19 million years old.
  • The honey bee is the only insect that produces food that is eaten by humans.
  • Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life.
  • Honey, if kept sealed, never spoils. Some honey found in Egyptian tombs is still edible after 2000 to 3000 years.
  • Honey has long been used as a wound dressing and is still being used today to heal particularly stubborn wounds. You can buy Manuka honey ointment and dressings on Amazon.
  • Bees continue to change medicine. Their venom has been proven to impact viruses and ease inflammatory pain and their propolis, basically the caulk they use in their hives, can fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi in humans.
  • A hive consists of 20,000 to 60,000 workers, 0 to 500 drones, and one queen. The workers are all female and the drones are male. There are zero drones in the fall and winter because the girls kick them out of the hive. Really!
  • The average worker bee produces 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her entire lifetime. Makes you think twice about wasting even a drop of honey, doesn’t it?
  • The average worker bee lives for 6 weeks in the busy spring/summer months, but 4 to 6 months over the fall/winter. Their life span depends on their role and the season.
  • Honey bees are not native to the Americas. They emigrated here from Europe. In fact, Native Americans called them “white man’s flies”.
  • The queen bee can live up to 5 years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She lays up to 2500 eggs per day. Bless her heart.
  • It takes visits to 2 million flowers, approximately 55,000 miles, to make one pound of honey. (Again, every drop is precious.)
  • For a long time (until the late 1660s), we thought the queen bee was actually a king bee until a scientist figured out the queen had ovaries. King bee? Seriously?
  • The drones have no stinger and do no work. They only mate. (Now you understand why the girls kick them out.)
  • They help us find serial killers. By studying the way that honey bees work to keep predators from finding their hive, scientists helped law enforcement build computer models to help them find serial killers who do the same. Really!
  • Honey bees can distinguish human faces and we are studying the way they do it to improve face recognition technology.
  • Honey bees are tiny little math nerds, able to calculate distances faster than a computer without any measuring device. They realize the world is round and they can calculate angles, using this ability to communicate the location of food to the hive.
  • A final romantic factoid. The term “honeymoon” came from an old custom in which newlyweds would drink a daily cup of mead, wine made from fermented honey, for a month.

As Dr. Daniel Woodruff says in Mostly Magic, “…the honey bee is one of the few beings in this world that actually improves almost anything it touches, instead of using it up or destroying it.”

Want to do your part to #SaveTheBees and our future food security? Some easy steps:

  1. Stop using insecticides. Just stop. Please?
  2. Avoid planting seeds coated with insecticides like clothianidin.
  3. Avoid using garden compost containing insecticides like imidacloprid.
  4. Plant bee-friendly plants everywhere.
  5. Create natural habitat gardens. Weeds are food for bees and butterflies.
  6. Become a beekeeper or offer space in your garden to one.
  7. Buy local honey.
  8. Get active—sign petitions, lobby for bee-safe regulations.
  9. Spread the word. Tweet about the issues.

And finally, and most important, KISS A BEEKEEPER!


Category: Bees
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