In a world without honey bees, we can’t survive. Honey bees are flying insects, closely related to ants and wasps. They are found across all continents except Antarctica. The insects play a vital role in maintaining a thriving and balanced ecosystem. You may not know this, but bees are some of the most important pollinators in the world. However, honey bees face many threats from modern farming practices, climate change, and hives disappearing.
For our favorite fruits, beautiful flowers, and more, we have to give honey bees a round of applause. As small as bees are, they are an essential part of the planet, as the plants they pollinate, make food for many creatures, such as insects and birds. They even create homes or shelters for many of them.
Common Questions About Honey Bees
1.Why do honey bees make honey?
2.Do bees eat honey?
3.How to get rid of honey bees?
What Is a Honey Bee?
The honey bee is a marvelous insect that is a perfect blend of functionality and aesthetics. Almost every part of the honey bee’s anatomy and its behaviors makes it ideal as a pollinator. These specialized features are:
The Honey Bee’s Wings – The bee has four wings and a row of tiny hooks known as hamuli that couple together when it is ready to fly. They are designed to take the honey far and quickly, which contributes to their success. It allows them to fly about three miles from their nest at 15 miles per hour.
Compound Eyes – Each of the honey bee’s compound eyes has about 6500 separated facets that ensure they see below, above, beside, and in front of them. They can perceive all the colors except red. Like human beings, they can see UV light, which helps navigate the sunlight and the clouds.
Antennae – There are thousands of sensory cells located on the bee’s antennae. A bee’s sense of smell is very accurate, and it is necessary for detecting food and speaking with other hive members.
Branched Setae – The bee’s body is filled with branched setae or feathery hairs that pollen attaches to as they fly past flowers. Fertilization occurs as some pollen are transferred to new flowers. What is left is taken back to the nest as food.
Warning Colors – The colors of the honey bee are natural warning colors like wasps have. The yellow and black stripes warn other animals that the insect is dangerous and they should steer clear.
Honey Bee Mandibles – The mouth area is very strong and functional. The jaws are connected to powerful muscles, enabling them to pick up and get rid of debris in the nest, manipulate wax in honeycomb making, and attack foreigners.
Legs – There are six strong legs on the bee’s body that provide stability in walking or standing. Each one of its feet has claws navigating uneven surfaces and a sticky pad for smooth areas. There are also special arrangements and structures of setae for debris, grooming the body, and pollen.
Pollen Basket – Every honey bee has a pollen basket made of long stiff hairs which curve around a section of the bee’s back legs. The stiff hairs comb the pollen grains from the body into the basket for transport to the hive.
Proboscis – The honey’s long tongue is also known as the proboscis, and it is used to get nectar from deep inside the flowers.
Wax Glands – The insects have wax glands on their abdomen’s underside that secrete beeswax, which is used to construct honeycombs. To make a pound of wax, a bee must eat at least eight pounds of honey.
Stinger – This is the bee’s defense. Its barbed, fish-like hook penetrates skin and latches on very tightly. When this happens, the stinger and the venom sac are ripped from the bee’s abdomen, and death can occur shortly.
Honey bees are far from being aggressive but can attack if they or their nest are threatened.
Pollination is referred to as the movement of pollen grains from the anther of the flowers’ male part to the stigma of the flower’s female part. The pollination process involves bees collecting pollen to stock the nests as food to feed the young ones.
Their specialized features to collect pollen include their branched hairs known as “scopes” and combs of bristles on their legs known as pollen baskets. As they visit the plants searching for food, the pollen catches the body and passes between plants, causing fertilization which equals pollination.
Thanks to honey bees, we enjoy a wide variety of domestic foods, fruits, and vegetables. Some are:
- Citrus fruits
- Soya beans
Honey bees can pollinate grass, clover, and alfalfa, which is typically used to feed cattle. This impacts the meat and dairy industry and the many manufactured food items made from these ingredients. Most of the cotton garments we own and wear are only possible because a plant was pollinated.
While bees are not the only pollinators on earth, they are certainly the most effective as they visit more flowers and carry more pollen. Let us not forget about the non-food products made by honey bees, such as beeswax in cosmetics and cleaning, which are very beneficial to us as well.
Honey Bees are excellent parts of nature, and they also provide a food source. They help to build homes for many other animals and insects. As pollinators, they are crucial in the growth of woodlands, tropical forests, among others. Some trees such as poplars and willows cannot grow unless honey bees are around to pollinate. While the insects contribute significantly to crop production, they are also essential in helping wild plant life thrive. They pollinate plants that have seeds, nuts, and fruits that serve as local wildlife. Honey bees’ pollination efforts enable a more colorful and beautiful environment and help flowering plants to flourish and grow.
The ecosystem relies heavily on the insects to support the growth of flowers, trees, and other plants that act as food and shelter for creatures of all sizes. They are significant contributors to complex, interconnected ecosystems, which account for biodiversity among different species.
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