The Importance of Bees
- Honey bees are accurately described as indispensable pollinators. In the United States it is estimated that managed honey bee colonies are annually responsible for the pollination of agricultural crops valued between $4 and $8 billion.
Bees that are about 21 days old, begin to take short orientation flights, marking the beginning of a 2 to 3 week life as a forager bee, seeking nectar and pollen to bring back to the colony.
While a worker bee is in a flower gathering nectar, pollen often sticks to her hairy body. Because the bee generally visits a number of the same type of flower, she will rub some of the pollen off onto another flower and complete pollination
- During chillier seasons, worker bees can live for nine months. But in the summer, they rarely last longer than six weeks—they literally work themselves to death.
- When aging bees do jobs usually reserved for younger members, their brain stops aging. In fact, their brain ages in reverse.
- More than 100 agricultural crops in the United States are pollinated by bees.
- Bees are important, if not essential, for the production of nearly $1.2 billion worth of agricultural crops produced annually in Arizona. Examples of bee pollinated crops in Arizona include watermelons, cantaloupe, citrus, vegetable and alfalfa seeds and apples.
- Bees use the sun as a compass. But when it’s cloudy, there’s a backup—they navigate by polarized light, using special photoreceptors to find the sun’s place in the sky. The Vikings may have used a similar system
To reinforce their hives, bees use a resin from poplar and evergreen trees called propolis. It’s basically beehive glue. Although bees use it as caulk, humans use it to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Research shows that propolis taken from a beehive may relieve cold sores, canker sores, herpes, sore throat, cavities, and even eczema.
Beginning in October 2006, some beekeepers began reporting losses of 30 – 90 percent of their hives. This phenomenon, which currently does not have a recognizable underlying cause, has been termed “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD).
Learn more this Saturday at our beginner bee keeping workshop at the Market (9am). This workshop is free but we ask that you pre-register here so we know you are coming,
Thank you to Kurt Nolte (Yuma County Cooperative Extension) for these fun facts