Bee-Educated

—Jada Williams, Staff Writer—

The semi-popular meme is true; bees are dying at an alarming rate! Most people overlook this because they’re bees, who cares? The world would be better off without them right? Wrong. If all the bees in the world die, within four years humans would die out as well.

0e229771ed0a78d22fdc9c6369ac0138.pngTim Blake, the lead technology analyst here at Cosby, is a beekeeper. He has raised honey bees and Russian honey bees (which can get quite aggressive) for about 4 years now, and he loves it. He went into beekeeping when he had lots of acres of land with a large garden as well as large fruit and nut orchards. In recent years, he has stopped seeing honeybees as often as he used to, and upon investigating, Blake has learned that the bee population is in fact decreasing. Because he has always liked bees, he wanted to 1d7053026cc4faf51550d0a2b0e9034bhelp improve the population, and even though Blake became interested in beekeeping as a personal hobby, after learning of the decline, he decided to approach it as a method of helping the environment. Blake says, “Bees are good at doing what they need to do for themselves, what I mainly do is monitor what goes on in the hive and help move honey from a strong hive to a weaker one to help out and balance it all.”

He, and many other passionate beekeepers around the world are trying their best to help keep the bee population from decreasing further because it can be difficult for bees to survive in the wild on their own. According to the Washington Post, there are multiple “theories” as to why the population is decreasing. The parasitic mite,Varroa, is associated with colony declines; multiple viruses that cause colony collapse disorder; and the poor nutritional health of bees overall are just a few of the possible causes. Additionally, the European Commision will make a two-year ban on a class of pesticides that could be harming global bee populations. However, Blake did acknowledge that some of the decrease in population may be due to the tendency of bee populations to flourish and then descend.

Here are some fun facts about bees!

  • There can be between 50-60 thousand bees per hive. (Tim has 15 hives!)
  • 95% of bees in a hive are females.
  • There are different “jobs” for each bee: newborns help feed and clean the hive, nurse bees take care of babies and get rid of bodies, guards guard the entrance and attacks predators, and field bees gather nectar.
  • The only time a male bee is born is when a queen lays an unfertilized egg. the queen can intentionally do this.
  • Male bees are called drones.
  • Drones are big, don’t feed themselves, and die after mating. If they don’t mate at the end of the fall the other bees will  drag them out and drop them on the ground, which is starving them!2013-07-28_0022401
  • If the queen dies, the colony will sense when something’s not right, they all know by a chemical in them and will make another queen.
  • A worker bee will get fed a little bit of royal jelly, but then they’ll be fed pollen.
  • In the fall they’re less active than in the warmer seasons, but still a little active.
  • A third of every bite you take, a bee has had something to do with it!
  • During warm weather a field bee won’t live more than 6 weeks (4-6 week average) and they work themselves to death and when they hibernate they can live up to 3 months.

Bees are definitely interesting animals and contribute a lot to this world. Populations are declining and you should totally take an interest in backyard beekeeping. What did the sushi say to the bee? Wassabee!

Photos Courtesy of Tim Blake