FREDERIC, Wis., November 14, 2011 — So, you want the buzz on bees? OK. Here’s an exclusive headline: you’re not alone.
Folks like you around the world are just plain curious about honeybees. I think it’s instinctual, like the born friendship between a man and his dog.
People of every size, shape and color on every continent are hooked on the busy creature, except on one continent. The honey bee is non-existent on frigid Antarctica. But then again, no insect lives on that ice cube.
I’ve sailed the seven seas to all seven continents on our home world. And oddly enough, people tell me bees are more fascinating than the mind-bending Middle East wars, or senior citizens running from pirates of the coast of East Africa, or even a starving reporter being arrested on the whim of superstar Bruce Willis.
Go figure. But it’s all true. God’s greatest pollinator takes the blue ribbon for the category of “Most Interesting” in a contest between Homo sapiens and Apis mellifera.
And I have proof of this.
Recently, my wife and I took a world cruise. While at sea, the ship’s cruise director sent a survey to the passengers, asking us to share any unique life stories, odd hobbies, or testimonials on positive hip replacements. (The average age on a world cruise appears about 75.)
As a journalist, I naturally had some great stories.
I could tell my shipmates about the miraculous time I met Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles, the last one of 100,000 to get in the Coliseum to see him. But the director prayerfully declined my submission.
I could tell about covering the wars in the Middle East and being eerily attacked at midnight in Iraq. But that pitch was shot down too.
Bored cruisers love gossip. Ok, I could tell of being arrested during the filming of the blockbuster “Die Hard 2,” and how Bruce Wills flipped out when he discovered a lowly reporter had gained access on the secret set. (I had pulled a great Fletch and gotten access to the cool helicopter scene.)
But the cruise director declined my movie moment, as well.
OK. How about bees? I suggested. His eyes popped open like he had just been stung from behind. “That’s it!” he exclaimed. And he booked me and the bees for two shows.
Whether you’re on land or at sea presently, let’s take an eye-popping look at 10 “unbelievable” facts.
- The queen bee will lay around 1,500 eggs per day.
- The vast majority of bees in the colony are girls, and they do all the work! Whoever said girls can’t get the job done never met a bee or Rosie the Riveter. These gals don’t cook, but they clean, feed babies, attend the mother queen, gather and pack the pollen and nectar into cells, repair honeycombs, and stand guard over the hive. And they do this every day!
- The male bees in the hive are called drones. These lazy guys have one sexy job: mate with the queen. And they do this without having a stinger.
- Honey is made from nectar and pollen pulled from blooming plants. They fan their wings and blow dry the nectar to about 85 percent moisture free, add a dash of pollen, and the gooey substance left is yummy, healthy honey. It’s the perfect food. Ask John the Baptist.
- Bees are the only insect in the world that make food for humans. (Thanks, girls!)
- Honey has natural preservatives and bacteria can’t grow in it. The Romans used it for medicine, covering their cuts and wounds on the battlefield.
- Honey was found in King Tut’s tomb. Honey has no bacteria, so when sealed by the bees it won’t spoil.
- A honeybee flies at about 15 mph, with its wings beating 200 times per second.
- During peak summer time, a hive can house some 80,000 bees.
- Bees collect nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey. And on average, they fly the distance of around the world to gather a pound of honey.
Of course the list goes on and on, the bees’ and mine. So let’s suit up weekly and take a fun peak at the wonders of bees and beekeepers in the world of beekeeping.
Please send me your comments and desires for Buzz on Bees. And I will work as busy as a bee to get the job done.
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