Bee Facts from Waxing Kara

Bee facts help us to understand just how important bees are to our ecosystem.

Honey bees, the only insect that produces food for humans, have been around millions of years. They play a vital role in the ecosystem, pollinating nearly a quarter of all the foods that humans consume and 80 percent of the world’s crops. Their pollination services are worth as much as $15 billion a year in the United States. In addition to producing honey, bees also produce wax, propolis—a resin from poplar and evergreen trees to reinforce their hives—and royal jelly, which provides nourishment for larvae and the queen.

Royal Jelly

Bees are smart and able to learn and remember things. They make complex calculations about distance and foraging, and their honeycombs are considered one of the most practical, efficient structures in nature. They communicate with one another through smell and by dancing.

A colony houses 20,000 to 60,000 honey bees and one queen, who lays up to 2,500 eggs per day. Honey bees will travel up to three miles from the colony to gather nectar, visiting between 50 and 100 flowers per trip and as many as 2,000 flowers a day. The average worker bee produces about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her six-week lifetime. Approximately two million flowers must be visited to yield one pound of honey.

Bee Facts about honey

Americans consume roughly 285 million pounds of honey each year. Honey contains enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, and is one of very few foods containing pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning. Propolis has many healing properties—it can fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and may relieve cold sores, sore throat, cavities, and even eczema. Bee stings may ease pain that is caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

A frame of honeycomb and bees for bee facts piece

In recent years, scientists have documented an increase in mass bee die-offs. This troubling phenomenon may be due to increased pesticide use, rising crop prices that have led farmers to replace millions of acres of wildflowers with planted crops, and a parasite that has proven deadly to bees.

Sources:
Andrew Freedman, “Just 2% of wild bee species pollinate at least 80% of crops” Mashable, accessed 6/19/15

Amazing Facts About Bees” Matter of Trust.org, accessed June 14, 2015

Lucas Reilly, “13 Fascinating Facts About Bees” mental_floss, accessed June 14, 2015,

Michael Wines, “A Sharp Spike in Honeybee Deaths Deepens a Worrisome TrendNew York Times, May 13, 2015,

About the Author

Kara Brook

Kara waxes about the bees, creates and tests recipes with her friend Joyce, and does her best to share what she’s learned and continues to learn about the bees, honey, ingredients we use and more.

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