May Exterminating is in the business of pest control. But not all insects are harmful pests.In recent years, there have been many discussions of honey bee populations decreasing and hives dying. This is bad news for North Carolina farmers and grocery stores. Here’s a little information on honey bees and why they matter to the environment and our food supply.
Honey Bee Facts
Honey bees contribute $14 billion dollars to the US Crops market, and domesticated honeybees are involved in production of over 70% of global crops. Some of these include fruit, vegetables, herbs, nuts, berries, even clothing crops such as cotton. Additionally, industries raising chickens, turkeys, cattle and other livestock are indirectly affected through feed crops. If you consider the effects on products from feed-crop animals, you could say that honeybees even impact production and availability of milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and more.
Inside the Hive
What’s the scoop inside the hive? How do these little bees make such a huge impact on so many areas of our agricultural world?
As you may know, there are several thousand worker bees with one queen - 20,000-60,000 to be exact. During the summer, the queen lays up 2500 eggs per day. Female worker bees live about 6 weeks and make about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in their entire life. Male worker bees are larger than the females, have no stinger and their only purpose is to mate.
The impact comes through pollination, where bees help plants to reproduce creating fruit, seeds and grains. The estimated value of pollination, the vast majority due to bees, is $20-30 billon a year. The food security concern stems from the alarming drop of bees in North America. Managed colonies have dropped from about 6 million in the late 1940s to less than 2.5 million today.
Natural Ecosystem Interruption and Effects
Honey bee numbers are down due to various factors. Moving and transporting hives, losses of their natural habitats, diseases, parasites and other factors impact the natural cycle of bees and their habitat.
It’s important that we help honey bees find places to find nectar and thrive. It’s also important that professionals relocate hives and help them avoid being harmed by commercial and industry growth.
Helping the Honey Bees
What can I do to help honey bees? If you’d like to attract them and watch them at work, planting pollinator-friendly flowers and gardens is a good way to start. Raising community awareness is also important. Talk to farmers and agricultural specialists in your area and see what ways you can get involved in contributing to the ecosystem and efforts locally.