This Tuesday is Earth Day (April 22nd) and we wanted to use this week's blog post to talk about Honey Bees and Pollination. We hope you enjoy it!
The journey of honey begins with humble honey bees. Whether buzzing in their hives or foraging for nectar in wide open fields, honey bees are a critical component of today's agricultural market. They perform the vital function of pollination, or the transferring of pollen from plant to plant. In fact, about one-third of the U.S. diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and honey bees are responsible for an impressive 80 percent of that process.
Without the honey bees' pollination work, the quantity and quality of many crops would be reduced and some would not yield at all. According to a 2000 Cornell University study, the increased yield and quality of agricultural crops as a result of honey bee pollination is valued at more than $14.6 billion per year. And although other insects can pollinate plants, honey bees are premier pollinators because they are available throughout the growing season and pollinate a wide range of crops.
Honey bees visit millions of blossoms in their lifetimes, collecting nectar to bring back to the hive – one of the busiest yet most efficient factories in the world. Modern beehives maintained by beekeepers are made up of a series of square or rectangular boxes without bottom enclosures. Inside the boxes, frames are hung for bees to build up a wax honeycomb in which to store honey and raise their brood.
Within the hive are thousands of worker bees, drones and a queen bee, all working together to create the perfect environment for producing delicious, golden honey. Bees fan their wings in the hive to create a strong, cool draft across the honeycomb. This enhances evaporation of much of the water from the nectar, raising the sugar concentration and preventing fermentation. When the hive has reached an ideal temperature, the bees seal the honeycomb cells of liquid honey with wax caps. The journey then continues with beekeepers.
Happy Earth Day!