August 18 is National Honey Bee Day. This day was designed to bring awareness to these little insects who do a big job. Did you know that these insects are responsible for pollinating up to 1/3 of the world's food supply? Without them, we could have a critical food shortage around the globe. Read on to learn more about honey bees and what they can do!
Five Fun Facts About Honey Bees
1. Honey bees live in hives and colonies. Some of these hives are so large that they contain 10,000 to 60,000 bees. Inside, every bee has a role with a specific job to play:
- There is a queen bee who lays all of the eggs.
- There are also worker bees. These bees are all female and they do all of the work for the hive. They collect the nectar, build and protect the hive, and provide fresh air to the rest of the hive by beating their wings.
- The rest of the bees are drones. These are the male bees whose purpose is to mate with the queen. Interesting tidbit: During the winter when the hive goes into survival mode, every single drone bee is kicked out of the hive. Only the females are allowed to remain!
2. Queen busy are massive egg layers. Their sole job is to lay eggs to ensure the hive's survival. Queen bees lay 2,000 eggs per day. Quick! More math. If a queen bee lays 2,000 eggs per day, how many eggs will she lay per week? Per month? Per year?
3. Honey bees are a vital part of the food chain. They are super-pollinators. They pollinate and collect nectar from flowers, fruits and vegetables. Honey bees live to be about five years old and one honey bee is able to gather nectar from 500 million flowers per year. Quick! Do the math! How many flowers does that make throughout that bee's lifetime?
4. Even though a single honey bee pollinates and collects nectar from more than 500 million flowers per year, a honey bee produce only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey throughout its life. Someone took the time to calculate how many bees it takes to make a pound of honey. He or she determined that 556 honey bees need to gather nectar from 2 million flowers to make it. Whoa!
5. Some species of honey bees are on the endangered species list. That means they are in danger of becoming extinct. Over the past 15 years, there has been a steady decline in the number of bees. In some parts of the world, over 90% of the honey bees are gone! This can have a crippling effect on the world's food supply if this decline continues.
How to Help the Honey Bees
You may be wondering what you can do with your students and children to help the honey bees. There are two simple things you can do to help them. The first one is to plant beautiful, nectar rich flowers around your homes and school. Lavender, bluebells, bee balm, black eyed Susan, coneflower, sunflower, chive, roses, and salvia are rich in the nectar that honey bees need.
Honey bees travel up to 3 miles per day in search of nectar. You can help them by creating pretty, little resting spots for them in your gardens. In this photos, someone place a simple saucer on the ground and filled it with clean water. Brightly colored flowers were placed in it to attract the bees. You can see the honey bees gathering here to take little sips of water. When they are well rested and hydrated, they can resume their never ending search for nectar.
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