Honeybee Facts

The Honeybee Crisis:

Can you imagine life without the multitude of flowers, flowering trees, varied fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries or honey for that matter?  There are numerous pollinating insects but honeybees alone are responsible for approximately a third of the food we consume.  Their pollinating power affects many levels of our ecosystem.  However, honeybee populations have been in decline. Among the many maladies currently afflicting honeybees and causing them ill health include Varroa and tracheal mites, various pathogens, viruses, malnutrition and environmental pesticide exposure, to name a few.  Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) continues to be a contributing cause in the decline of the honeybee population. When a hive experiences CCD, the bees once thriving and doing well, suddenly leave their hive and do not return.  Scientists are trying to determine the cause and solution of this situation.  If the honeybee population continues to decline, the volume of our food supply, created by their pollinating efforts, will be jeopardized.  Here is a link to a documentary regarding
CCD:
www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/silence-of-the-bees/full-episode/251/

 

Here at the Barefoot Bee we are passionate about these wonderful little creatures.   They are fascinating, incredibly important insects needing continued human interest and protection.    

 

 

What can one person do to help the honeybees?

Are you wondering what you could do, as one person, to help the bees?  That was our initial question as well.  Turns out even if having a hive in your back yard, or on the rooftop of your city dwelling is not possible, there are still loads of things you can do!

  • Plant things in your garden that honeybees need and love-no matter how small your garden may be-even if it’s a pot of flowers.  They do not prefer the color red
  • Dandelions! When honeybees are first emerging from their hives in the spring they have typically depleted their winter stores of honey and pollen needed for daily nutrition to sustain their life.  The synergy of nature is amazing in that just when honeybees are emerging from their hives, so too emerge incredibly nutritious Dandelions! For honeybees, this valuable pollen and nectar source provides one of the first important sources of pollen and nectar, prior to when the other spring nectar sources become available. So, if you can leave the dandelions while they are in bloom, just think how many honeybees will benefit.
  • In striving for a weed and pest-free landscape try natural alternatives.  Pesticides not only harm pests but the good insects as well.  When honeybees ( with their bare little feet) land on harmful substances, they can bring this back to their hive and endanger the rest of their colony.
  • Set aside undisturbed areas in your yard to encourage and provide nesting places for feral (wild) honeybees.  All bees need our support for their survival.
  • Plant a patch of clover-honeybees love it.  If you don’t want it in your lawn, put some in a big planter!
  • Honeybees need a water source.  Place small dishes of water in your garden with rocks for them to land on so they won’t drown.
  • Bees like it when there are multiple types of plantings in your garden. It's kind of like one stop shopping for them.
  • Beekeepers can be called for assistance in removing bees from a swarm or uninvited location in a home or building structure. Never kill honeybees if at all possible.  They can be successfully  relocated instead.
  • Buy local honey. Your support of local beekeepers helps to keep their business strong so they can keep their bees healthy, thriving and pollinating your locally grown food.  Local raw honey is healthy and wonderful to eat, as it has not been altered by heat processing. (Honey purchased from the grocery store has been processed in order to keep it from crystallizing.  Crystallization is a natural process that can simply be reversed by placing the honey jar in a warm bath).  Consuming local honey also has been stated to help with seasonal allergies.
  • Have a hive!  Beekeeping associations are found in local communities and hold beekeeping classes.  In a relatively short amount of time you can learn how to get started, set up the hive and learn how to care for your bees.  Some associations have mentors as well.  If you’re not sure, but would love to find out more about it, attend a local meeting to check it out.  You might find yourself loving the prospect of becoming a beekeeper! You don’t have to live in a country setting.  Hives can be kept in many locations and do not necessarily need to be placed where you reside.
  • Donate to bee research.  A quick browse on-line will help you identify a research entity of your choice.  
  • Bee their voice. Help advocate for honeybees.

About beeswax:

 

Honeybees make wax from consuming nectar from flowers.  The wax is secreted from glands in their abdomens. Bees build wax cells into contingent hexagon compartments where they raise their young and store pollen and honey.  When honey is being extracted from the hive, the top layer of wax is taken off in order to open the cells to release the honey.  That top layer of wax can then be turned into beautiful clean burning candles as well as an ingredient in many health and beauty products. 

 

Beeswax candles emit negative ions when burned.  The negative ions attract positive ions that are attached to pollutants in the air.  This process can actually help purify the air without the use of chemicals, perfumes or machines.  Beeswax candles burn brighter, longer and cleaner than any other type of candles.  Unlike its paraffin counterpart, beeswax is a renewable, non-toxic resource that is hypoallergenic and non-carcinogenic when burned.  It’s smokeless and has an absolutely beautiful glow to its flame.  Beeswax candles tend to drip less and because the melting point is so high, beeswax candles burn a very long time in comparison to any other wax available.  It is truly a special commodity.

 

Interesting facts about honeybees:

 

  • They are social insects and communicate by the use of dances and smells
  • The female bees do all the work ; male bees and the queen are taken care of by the female bees
  • The queen lays an average of 1500 eggs per day and only stops laying during the winter months and she knows if she’s laying a male or female egg before she lays it
  • Foraging bees can fly over 3 miles away from their hive
  • They fly on average about 8-9 miles per hour
  • After their non-stop 12 hour day shift, they work in the dark hive at night repairing, creating comb, feeding baby bees.  Honeybees hardly ever sleep
  • The average life span of a field bee, in the height of summer is about a month
  • A worker bee makes 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her entire life span
  • To make a pound of honey, bees have to tap the nectar of, on average, 2 million flowers
  • Honeybees only sting to defend themselves or their queen and hive.  They die when they sting
  • They are the only insect that makes food (honey) for humans
  • They are responsible for approximately 80 % of all fruit vegetable and seed crops in the US
  • They have taste receptors in their legs
  • They do not see the color red
  • Even on the coldest day of winter, bees cluster together in their hive and can keep their cluster temperature at about 92 degrees!
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