FEATURE FRIDAY: Helping the local honey bee population is easy

Written by Susan Campbell, Thunder Radio

Since ancient times, honey bees have been seen as symbols of wealth, good luck and prosperity.

Considered magnificent and highly productive insects, honey bees are vital for stable, healthy food supplies and play a vital role in nature’s ecosystems.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), pollinators such as honey bees are a vital part of agricultural production. Unfortunately, honey bees are rapidly disappearing due to climate change and pesticides, with the number of honey bee hives in the U.S. dropping from 6 million in the 1940s to about 2.5 million today.

In an attempt to reverse this trend, in 2009 a small group of beekeepers petitioned the USDA for recognition of honey bees and beekeeping, which is now recognized as National Honey Bee Day. The event is now managed by honeylove.org, a California-based nonprofit.

Locally, rangers at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Manchester will celebrate National Honey Bee Day on Aug. 15, according to Ranger Leigh Gardner.
“We will be celebrating our bees as well as other pollinators by discussing the important role they play in our ecosystems as well as in our economy,” Gardner said. “We will also be constructing bee hotels at the park.”

Bee hotels are small structures that can be placed in individual gardens and will encourage the bees to stay, according to Gardner.

“Many bees don’t live in colonies. They are solitary and function without a hive. These bee hotels give them a safe space to call home. They are easy to construct, look neat in a garden, and are good for bees.”

Registration for the program will be open soon at this link.  Cost to participate is $5 per box, which covers the cost of materials. To learn more, email Gardner at leigh.gardner@tn.gov.

Old Stone Fort is located at 732 Stone Fort Dr. in Manchester. Learn more at the website, or by visiting Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park on Facebook.

(Feature Friday is a weekly segment at www.thunder1320.com, written by award winning Coffee County writer Susan Campbell. )

 

FACTS ABOUT HONEY BEES

–Planting nectar-bearing flowers for decorative purposes on balconies, terraces, and gardens draws honey bees.

–Honey bees are super-important pollinators for flowers, fruits and vegetables. Bees transfer pollen between the male and female parts, allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit.

–Honey bees live in mostly in hives. The members of the hive are divided into three types. The queen runs the entire hive. Her job is to lay the eggs that will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behavior of the other bees. The workers are all female and their roles are to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, and clean and circulate air by beating their wings. Workers are the only bees most people ever see flying around outside the hive. The drones are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the new queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer.

–Honey bees produce 2-3 time more honey than they need.

–If the queen bee dies, workers will create a new queen by selecting a young larva (the newly hatched baby insects) and feeding it a special food called “royal jelly.” This enables the larva to develop into a fertile queen.

–Honey bees beat their wings 200 times per second.

–Each bee has 170 odorant receptors, which they use to communicate within the hive and to recognize different types of flowers.

–The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks. During this time, she’ll produce around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey.

–The queen can live up to five years. She is busiest in the summer months, when she can lay up to 2,500 eggs a day.

–Source: National Geograpic

TSP HONEY PROJECT
Last year, Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation launched the TSP Honey Project at 31 state parks with at least two hives at each park. In 2020, apiaries will be added at 10 additional parks. Many parks sell the honey in the gift shops based on the hive’s production. If a park’s hives have produced enough honey, bottling usually occurs sometime between May and September. Learn more by clicking here. 

Participants in this year’s National Honey Bee Day celebration set for Aug. 15 at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park will create bee houses similar to these that can be placed in gardens to encourage bees to stay. Material cost is $5. To learn more, email Ranger Leigh Gardner at leigh.gardner@tn.gov.