Honey Bees

Honey Bees

This spring, for the time in the twelve years we’ve lived in our Buckeye home, honey bees failed to arrive at our massively-blooming Palo Verde trees. Each year, one of my favorite things has been to stand beneath the tall, forty-foot branches, laden with gazillions of yellow blossoms, and savor the drone of the bees. No such thing happened this year. There were no bees in the trees.

It would be easy to fault ‘colony collapse disorder’, but I’m not familiar enough with the area, or with honey bees, to know if something else is at work in the region. What I do know is that pollination in the desert used to take place via our ant populations. Honey bees were unknown to the desert until they were imported. *** I had this from our science-loving termite inspector about a year ago. So, the absence of the bees will remain a mystery until perhaps we have our termite inspector out later in the year for his annual scouring of our property.

Here’s a fascinating, hands-on video about creating diversity in hives to raise calm bees. Here’s a succinct, fun video featuring the ‘waggle dance’, that is, the remarkable ways bees communicate a nectar source to their fellow workers. Here’s a 4-minute video briefly discussing ‘colony collapse disorder’. See what you think.

FunFacts about Honey Bees: (Source) (Source)  

  • Here’s a brief description of honey bees, quote: Honey bee (or honeybee) is any member of the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests from wax. In the early 21st century, only seven species of honey bee are recognized, with a total of 44 subspecies, though historically six to eleven species are recognized.
  • Honey bees represent only a fraction of the 20,000 species of bees that exist.
  • Melittology is the study of bees, including honey bees.
  • Honey bees have been around for millions of years.
  • The honey bee is the only insect that creates a food eaten by humans.
  • Here is a quote on the amazing marvel that honey is: Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning. (Source)
  • Honey bees can fly up to 6 miles at 15 mph.
  • Honey bees wings beat 200 times per second which creates the awesome buzz.
  • Worker honey bees are female.
  • Each hive has a single queen whose purpose is to create more bees.
  • The queen can live up to five years and during the busy summer months, she will lay 2500 eggs per day.
  • Male honey bees are called drones. They are larger than the female honey bees, but don’t work. Their purpose is to mate with the Queen.
  • Honeybees communicate by dancing, sometimes called the waggle dance. For more information about the dance, go here or here.

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(Photos from Pixabay)

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41 thoughts on “Honey Bees

  1. I occasionally like to watch the nature shows about bees, but lately they seem focused on the killer bee problem. Honey bees are pretty amazing and I’m grateful to them for making such a tasty food item!

  2. We would be in trouble without bees and not just because I’d miss eating honey.

    We have a hive at work, a Pre-school, of native bees. They don’t sting, the bees, not the children.

  3. We have several nest around our neighborhood, so always spotting them flying around. Try to avoid them as much as possible, hate getting stung but understand the reasons.

  4. Honeybees are a marvel of nature. I loved learning about the hierarchy within the hive. I did learn that the worker bees were all female, I thought they were male and female. The males’ only job is to service the queen, which sounds very difficult if she can lay up to 2500 eggs/day! I am just learning about the different kinds of honey available in the marketplace today.

  5. MUCH of our food depends on bees to fertilize the flowers. By carrying pollen from flower to flower, the bees create apples, almonds, and many of the other fruits and nuts. Vegetables depend on bees also. HONEYBEES came over from Europe with the early colonial settlers. There are also thousands of varieties of native bees. All are needed to sustain our food production. All are affected by the neonicanoid type of pesticides being used all over America (But banned in most European countries). Many of the plants bought from “big-box” stores are pre-treated with these pesticides! People buying theses plants & flowers to encourage bees are actually hurting the bees. BUY YOUR GARDEN PLANTS FROM nurseries/venders that do not use these pesticides. ASK before you BUY.
    Master Gardener Volunteer

    • Susan,
      Thank you so much for sharing this information. I’ll need to be more diligent. Unfortunately, pesticides are sprayed in our development on a regular basis. It could be the reason the bees didn’t return this year to take advantage of the Palo Verde bloom.

      Caris,
      Buckeye Arizona USA

  6. Growing up in northeastern Ohio, I remember watching the bees pollinate the flowers and always found them fascinating. Now living in Pulaski, Tennessee, I haven’t seen to many honey bees in my yard but know that they exist since some people in the area raises them and produce honey. I learned a couple new things about them from your fun facts. I didn’t realized that the females were the workers. I loved the pictures you posted, you really got some good ones that really show the bees up close.

  7. Enjoyed all the pictures. Enjoyed the videos and it’s scary that we are losing so many bees. Hopefully they put out more regulations on pesticides to stop the destruction of them. I enjoy watching them go along to the flowers. I noticed we didn’t have that many bees this year going into the fruit trees when they were in bloom. Sad.

  8. I don’t like bees. Of any kind. I’m not even a fan of honey. *chuckles* From a distance though, and in pictures, they are okay.

  9. I live next to an apple orchard that has several honey bee hives to assist in pollination. I understand the need for their own bees but it makes me sad that they have to go to such lengths. It is also somewhat of a problem when we get hundreds of bees swarming our hummingbird feeders, but that is pretty rare and quite a site to see! Thank you for the information.

  10. Unfortunately they are all so similar that it’s hard to tell whats buzzing at you before you swat it.

    Alberta, Canada

  11. We’ve been fortunate enough to have bees visiting us throughout the year here in the High Desert of Southern California. The gazanias bloom through the winter, along with the honeysuckle, so they have food during the lean months. Right now they are working diligently in our honey locust trees after visiting the wisteria vines for the last month. The roses are also tempting them into our yard. Our bees are so gentle around us and the dogs. We’ve had mason bees, honey bees and even a jumbo sized bumble bee visiting us. I love it!

  12. When I was a child my father had several bee hives. We always had honey. He would not want us to go to the hives. Being a “long-headed child” I would poke sticks in their doorway. Needless to say, they did not like this. I would swell up from bee stings from the bees that would get tangled in my hair as I ran away. I missed several days of school because I could not see from the swelling. I do not hold this against the bees and I respect their space. Hey, I learned to run really fast, but not fast enough to out run bees.

    At least I didn’t poke snakes like my sister.

  13. I have never raised bees but find them fascinating. They are very important to flowers and have been disappearing.

  14. My dad has a small apiary. I have an abundance of honey.

    A certain temp has to be kept in the hive in order for it to survive winter. They sometimes abandon a hive.There are so many reasons as to whether or not the bees have arrived. Best thing would be to check with your local Ext. office to see if the bees are behind with weather changes.

    denise from maryland

  15. My father was a bee keeper among other things. When the bees would swarm , we, the kids would take coffee cans and beat on them with rocks, this would settle the bees down. My dad would use a bee smoker and smoke the bees when he would rob them. These are great memories of bees. As a child, I would think of the bees as friends.

    • Jackie,
      Thanks for sharing. I wonder why banging on the coffee cans settled them down! That’s so fascinating. What great memories for you!

      Caris,
      Buckeye Arizona USA

      • I looked it up and it is called drumming the bees. When a bee colony starts

        swarming the queen and part of the bees are leaving to start another colony. The

        other part of the bees stay and another queen has hatched to continue the original

        swarm.

        The beating makes a rythm that settles the bees and you can lead the bees to

        another bee gum, the box they live in, instead of flying off into the woods.

  16. Much as I appreciate the honey they produce, being allergic to bees I have to keep my distance. I do, however, appreciate their contribution.

  17. Love the honeycomb pictures. They’ve always fascinated me. Haven’t seen any yet this year but we usually have quite a few bees around near our pond since I planted a bunch of wildflowers along the bank a few years ago. I usually see the huge Bumble Bees near the house.

  18. Many local beekeeper hives have failed in my area of NC.

    It’s been an ongoing problem for the past several years and it’s sadly becoming worse each year.

    Susan Schluederberg’s comment was right on target.

    I’ve also noticed a big decline of bumblebees in the past few years. I find juvenile ones dead or dying in addition to the adults.

    It’s very sad seeing a large part of the problem is preventable.

  19. I remember hearing something about the lack of honey bees, or maybe it was bees in general. I believe the concern is about the lack of pollination, but I didn’t read further, so hopefully that situation has turned itself around. I enjoy a good peanut butter and honey sandwich. I think those super furry puff ball bees are too cute!

  20. I did not know that the wings were what made the buzz!!!! Totally awesome! I have never raised any kind of bee at all. I do like to watch them when they are flying in and out of the flowers. Although I am from Chicago at this very moment, I will be moving to Phoenix on June 7th!!. Am busy packing up everything, My son comes the 3rd and then we will be off to new adventures. My son already lives there and wants me to come join him.

  21. Enjoyed reading about the bees.
    I think I read once where nutritionists think the perfect foodstuff is HONEY with its many benefits to good health.

  22. WOW they can fly 6 miles that is amazing. I am thankful for these creatures I do LOVE Honey 🙂

  23. Bees and I get along only when they stay a long, long, long, way away from me. There are some whopper bumble bees around right now.

  24. I work with three other people on Grant funded projects. We call ourselves The Hive and our leader, Queen Bee,though we just call her Bee

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