Honey bees are as unique as the honey they produce. These amazing insects are responsible for producing honey and pollinating 35% of the foods we eat. They are the perfect example in productivity and efficiency. They also are a female-dominated species with female bees accounting for more than 99% of all honey bees! Like ants and termites, honey bees live in colonies inside the beehive. If you were to open a beehive, here’s what you would find.
The sole egg layer in the beehive, the queen bee’s main responsibility is giving birth to baby bees, upward of one million in her lifespan. There is only one queen bee per hive, and she only leaves the hive once in her life to mate. After that, it’s back to the hive where during summer months, she’ll give birth about once every 45 seconds.
The brains and body of the beehive, worker bees make all the decisions inside and outside the hive, plus do all the work! These amazing women nurse baby bees, build honeycombs, protect the hive from predators and gather food for their family! They work so hard that they only have a lifespan of four to six weeks.
They don’t work, do household chores or gather food. They don’t even have a stinger! Male bees have one goal: mate with a queen. If they’re successful at this venture, it kills them immediately. If they are unsuccessful, then worker bees will evict them from the hive once the weather gets cold, essentially starving or freezing them to death.
As honey bee populations continue to face challenges and experience rates of decline, protecting these pollinators is becoming even more crucial to our ecosystem. The National Honey Board started Honey Saves Hives to recognize the role these amazing insects play in our planet’s entire ecosystem. Helping honey bees is all of our responsibility, and luckily, anyone can help by doing these six things:
Purchasing honey helps promote the wellbeing of bees by supporting the beekeepers that take care of their hives
When chefs and food manufacturers use honey, they are supporting the honey industry’s efforts to keep healthier bees.
A lack of food is one of the greatest challenges facing bees. If you have a yard, dedicate a portion of it to growing native wildflowers that help feed honey bees.
Gardening without chemicals helps protect pollinators. Better yet, let the dandelions grow - bees love them!
Give bees a place to drink. Put a shallow basin of fresh water with marbles or rocks in it for the bees to land on outside your home.
Give to an organization dedicated to helping protect and promote honey bees and other pollinators.