Superheroes and Super Pollinators
In honor of National Superhero Day, let us learn about our planet’s superheroes, the super pollinators, the honey bees. The honey bee is important to the way humans live and they are facing a whole heap of problems. Not to worry though, because we have the ability to help and save the bees!
What exactly is a honey bee?
With in a honey bee colony there are three members:
- The Queen: This is the only fertile female in the colony. She mates and reproduces to keep the colony thriving and dense.
- The Drones: Are the males of the colony and only serve one purpose, to mate with their Queen.
- The Workers: While the other members are heroes on their own, the worker honey bees are the real superheroes of the colony. They are the infertile females and laborers of the group. They have many tasks such as:
- feed preparation, feeding the queen, guarding the hive, and cooling/heating the hive
Worker honey bees can live from six to eight weeks and during their short life-span and will fly one and half times the circumference of the Earth. They can produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey during their lives. Now that does not seem like a lot of honey but just imagine the thousands of honey bees in the 27 million colonies throughout the US. Now, thats a lot of honey, honey.
Why the honey bee is important to the lives we live.
As superheroes go, the honey bee is the super pollinator of the insects. They gather nectar from flowers and plants to feed their larvae and produce honey and beeswax. Beeswax is important to us humans for its cleaning and beauty purposes as well as, the health benefits from the proplis (bee glue). For every 60 pounds of honey, a single pound of beeswax is produced.
For the economy:
According to the National Honey Board, in 2017, the U.S. economy made $4.7 billion in just honey sales. The U.S. economy also depends heavily on the honey bee for the sustainability in our agricultural industry. $20 billion worth of crops in the U.S. rely on the pollination of honey bees.
To better visualize this just think of the California Almond Industry. It takes nearly 1.8 million honey bee colonies to pollinate just one acre of their almond orchards.
For the flowers and plants:
There is a symbiotic relationship between flowers, plants, and honey bees in nature. Of all the flowering plants in the world, 80% of them require pollination.
“High-quality forage goes hand-in-hand with pollinator health and productivity.”Dr. Clint Otto, Research Ecologist, U.S. Geologic Survey
The problems honey bees are facing
The insect annihilation is upon us with a decline in 20,000 varieties of bees, butterflies, moths, and beetles each year. In America, up to 40% of honey bees die in the winter season and their critical wildlife habitats are disappearing.
These are major issues for us as humans because, one-third of our food supply relies on the pollination process. If the crops are not being pollinated the food will not make it to our tables.
Some of the main reasons the honey bee population is crumbling:
- CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder: This is when the worker bees of a colony disappear. Without the work ethic and nectar that these bees provide, the colony becomes dysfunctional and will not survive.
- Human Development: We as humans are always finding ways to grow and that means more land development. This is ultimately harmful for wild bees because the natural habitats are decreasing in size and density.
- Pesticides: humans use neonicotinoid chemicals on crops to keep harmful insects at bay but, they also cause damage to good insects, like the honey bee.
- Varroa Mites: These insects are round mites that carry severe viruses. These vectors are spreading disease throughout honey bee colonies.
The solution to help save the bees
We can help the honey bees by providing them with good nutrition through more flowers and plants to help develop a healthier and stronger population before the winter season. Nutrition is the most basic and fundamental requirement for the prospect of healthy pollinators. We can accomplish a better nutritious life for the honey bee by building more abundant, pesticide-free, and diverse pollinator habitats.
For more ways to accomplish this we look to the professionals for help.
You can visit The Center for Honey Bee Research for unbiased data that comes directly from beekeepers and their hives. Also check out The American Beekeeping Federation and The Honey Bee Conservation for more helpful information.
If you are looking for more of a, hands on, approach dive deep into The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund. This foundation exists purely to help ensure that honey bee and monarch butterfly populations thrive. They do this by creating higher-quality pollinator habitats with the help of landowners, conservationists, scientists, and beekeepers. Together they build sustainable pollinator habitats with the appropriate amount of bloom diversity, density, and forage potential.
They accomplish this through The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund’s Seed A Legacy Program. This program provides a specially designed habitat seed mix that is made for precision in maximizing pollinator habitats. They work with private, public, and corporate lands in the 12 most critical pollination states. After applying through their website, they will send free seed mixes and provide guidance to help prepare, establish, and maintain a healthy pollinator habitat for a minimum of five years.
This foundation asks you to help save the bees by offering donations, applying for projects and also to help promote their cause.
A fun and stylish way to help promote…
… The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund is by visiting Pura Vida Bracelets. This organization sells different bracelets and jewelry from artists all over the world to help promote awareness for all different causes. One of their charity packages is the Save The Bees Charm bracelet located in their Animal Awareness charity section. The Save The Bees Charm is just $12 and come in two styles: a white band with a gold charm or a yellow band with a silver charm.
How this helps The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, when you purchase the bracelet 5% of the purchase price goes to their foundation. Purchase your bracelet here and use the code: JESSIEKULP21 to get a 20% discount on your whole order.
Well all can do our part and Save the Bees, the superheroes, super pollinators of our planet.