Talking Honey Bees

Learn how to tell the difference between a honey bee and other types of hymenoptera (e.g. yellow jackets) here.

Honey bee basics

 

Where to start? When to finish? This section could just keep going like a bunny with batteries...

 

But let's say this: Honeybees are the most studied insects on Earth. They communicate through dance and smells. Scientists have identified many distinct pheromones used by bees for communication. 

 

The honeybee is considered a super-organism, defined as a mass of individuals acting together for the collective good. 

Making honey

 

In days of yore, civilizations associated honeybees with the heavens. These tiny winged insects amassed such volumes of honey, it boggled the mind. And indeed it is impressive, the cooperative, industrious nature of the honeybee. 

 

One-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is all a single honeybee worker gathers in her lifetime. Each worker bee's life is short, 6 weeks in average, but collectively, they amass volumes of honey. 

 

Honeybees collect nectar from plants within a 5 mile radium of their hive to make honey. The nectar comes from the treetops, the shrubs at eye-level, and what you might consider the weeds under your feet. As you mow, consider carving out a bee sanctuary - of clover and dandelions. 

Essential for our food

 

Our current mode of life relies on honeybees for pollination services in agricultural settings. Domestic honeybees pollinate approximately $10 billion worth of crops in the U.S. each year.

 

A third of our grocery store shelves would be barren without pollinators like honey bees. Here is a list of all the food plants that require pollinators.

 

Ever notice a lopsided apple? That's a sign of inadequate pollination. 

Bees at risk 

 

Honeybees and beekeepers are having a tough time of it currently. Among the diseases and pests affecting the honeybee is the varroa mite, a parasite shown in the picture at right. 

 

Honeybees deserve our respect, adoration, and attention. If you notice a swarm, notify a beekeeper.

 

In North Carolina, most counties have a group. In Orange County, try www.theocba.org. To find the local beekeepers' group in other counties, look here.  

 

If the bees have moved into an unwelcome spot and you want them removed, contact Chris.

 

Check out our photo gallery to lean more about how that works. 

 

Photo credit:  ARS/USDA Scott Bauer

Our resource page, The Bee Yard, has links to more information on bees and beekeeping.