Bug Week: Bees
Bees are facing a serious threat…this is not news.
Since 2006, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has disrupted thousands of bee colonies in the country. Pollinators contribute to about $24 billion dollars to the U.S economy while Honeybees account for more than $15 billion dollars through their vital roles in our environment and agricultural industries.
This phenomenon occurs when a majority of bees in a colony disappear and leave the queen bee, babies and a few nurse bees behind. Without mature worker bees to bring back nectar and pollen, the colony will collapse and die.
A series of symptoms have been addressed but the cure has remained a mystery. The main causes of CCD include loss of habitat, environmental factors, pesticides, parasites and diseases.
It is up to us to keep our bees safe!
Egg – The queen bee lays around 300-2,000 eggs per day. Some eggs are fertilized while others are not. The fertilized egg will develop into a female worker bee and the unfertilized egg will develop into a male drone bee! After 3 days, the eggs will hatch.
Larva – During the first two days of birth, the microscopic larval do not have eyes or legs so worker bees individually feed them with, “royal jelly” for about 6 days.
Pupa – The transition from larva to pupa is quite fascinating. The pupa illuminates and becomes a full-grown queen, worker or drone bee. First, the eyes will develop following the wings, legs and other body parts.
Adult – The adult stage begins when bees are fully grown and are ready to fulfill their roles!
- Adult queen bees will lay their eggs.
- Adult worker bees spend the first few weeks working within the hive and in the final weeks they will forage for food and gather pollen + nectar to create honey.
- Adult drone bee’s responsibility is solely mating with the queen bee.
What is pollination?
It is simply the way plants achieve fertilization and genetic diversity.
How Do Bees Pollinate?
The most important aspect of a bee’s life involves pollination. Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce and thrive during our garden season. When Honeybees collect nectar and pollen from flower, vegetable or fruit blossoms, some pollen from the flowers male reproductive organ (stamens) sticks to the bee’s hair. When they visit their next flower, some of this gathered pollen is rubbed off onto the tip of the female reproductive organ of the flower (Stigma). When fertilization occurs, the plant will produce seeds, which supports the associated plant to procreate and form fruit.
What Are The Benefits Of Pollination?
Pollination is what gives us our amazing produce each season! Every vegetable, fruit, nut, flower and other plants we eat, require pollination and without it we would be directly affected.
How Does Pollination Benefit Bees?
Bees store the pollen they collect in their comb cells and use it as nutrition for nurse bees. Nurse bees are vital in the honeycomb habitat. They care for the larva by secreting the pollen into “royal jelly” for the larva – a combination of honey, pollen and enzymes. Honey or “royal jelly” is necessary for the larva to grow!
Where Does Honey Come From?
Mature worker bees will forage for pollen + nectar from rich-flowers. They suck out the liquid nectar and store it inside his honey stomach. After his tummy is full, enzymes within his stomach will break down the nectar into simple sugars that will not crystallize. With their full honey tummies, they will return to the hive and deliver the nectar to the younger worker bees. The hive bees will break down the nectar until it is ready to be placed inside the honeycomb.
When the nectar is ready to be placed inside the combs, hive bees will flap their wings aggressively until the water inside in the jelly has been evaporated. The sugar nectar thickens from them fanning their wings, creating our sweet honey! Once the process is finished, the hive bees will cover the beeswax cell and store for later use.
How Much Does A Honeybee Produce A Year?
A Honeybee can produce over 200 pounds of honey each year!
Support our bee population starting with the basics…
- Understand how important honeybees are to agricultural and our environment!
- Save the bees by planting these: Lavender, thyme, cilantro, borage, sage, fennel, hollyhock, crocus, buttercup, snowdrop, geranium, and aster.
- STOP using toxic pesticides in the garden and lawn care.
- Leave patches of bare dirt that are free of mulch or turf to allow for ground-nesting bees to build a home.
- Create a nesting site for bee homes in your yard far away from your house but close enough to the garden.
- Always have a birdbath that bees can forage water from.
Eat local + Buy Local
- Shop at local farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
- Buy raw, properly sourced honey
- Plant a garden with Oasis Backyard Farms and grow something with us!
- Reduce your everyday impact on the environment – lower your carbon footprint.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle