Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pesticides, herbicides and fun honeybee facts

While at our beekeepers meeting last week, the lady in charge of our group told us that when she recently went to inspect her hives she found several hives full of dead bees.  Inside the hives were full of dead bees and there was a pile of them dead on the ground under each hive.  Quite distressing for a beekeeper.  Another hive was trying to swarm and get away but they too were dying.

Why did this happen?  It's unknown at this time so she froze many many of the dead bees to give to a state inspector to help determine the cause.  Not sure it will ever be known but the probable cause is pesticides.  The actual pesticide may be hard to determine but another possible culprit may be the chemical used to kill lawns / crops named roundup.  Some are even saying it may be the cause of colony collapse syndrome.  Roundup is a cancer causing chemical that is sprayed on most of the corn people eat.   Here's an article on the subject if you're interested

So to counteract the downer of reading about dead bees here's a couple "Fun Facts" that was on a beekeeping brochure from St. Pete College in addition to a few other online sources:

Honeybees are the only insects that produce food for humans.  Honey is the oldest food in existence and it never spoils;  it contains all the substances necessary to sustain life including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it's the only food that contains "pinocembrin", an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

Honeybees will usually travel approximately 5 miles from their hive for pollen and nectar.

A single honeybee will produce approximately 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime

It would take about 1 ounce of honey to fuel a honeybee's flight around the world.

A honeybee has to travel over 55,000 miles and visits approximately 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.

88% of pollination of fruit, vegetables and seed crops in the U.S. is accomplished by honeybees.

Honey bees have 170 odorant receptors, compared with only 62 in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitoes. Their exceptional olfactory abilities include kin recognition signals, social communication within the hive, and odor recognition for finding food. 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 metres away.

A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female, live for about 6 weeks and do all the work.

 Larger than the worker bees, the male honey bees (also called drones), have no stinger and do no work at all. All they do is mating. In fact, before winter or when food becomes scarce, female honeybees usually force surviving males out of the nest.

Each honey bee colony has a unique odour for members' identification.

Honey bees make about 200 beats per second with their wings, creating their infamous buzzing sound. A worker bee in the summer lasts six to eight weeks. Wearing their wings out is the most common cause of their death.

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