Day 317: Busy Bees in the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities did a great job of keeping us busy as three little bees—so much in fact, that we decided to pay a visit to our black-and-yellow striped friends with beekeeper hobbyist Stevie Ray.

Colony collapse and declining bee populations is a serious and scary situation we’re facing. So serious, and so scary that even Haagan Daaz is airing depressing commercials to help save the honeybees.  It’s estimated that the honeybee population in the US has declined by 25% over the past few years alone; some sources say the decline in the wild honeybee population has been as much as 90% since the 1970’s. 

I’ve never been fond of bees, but even so, I recognize how critical they are for our survival.  The vast majority of crops in the US is non-native, and relies on the cross-pollination of bees in order to produce food for us and the livestock we raise.  As it stands already, some farmers pay large-scale beekeepers to drop palettes of bees into the middle of their land to ensure that the crops like broccoli, onions, apples, and avocados get the pollination they need.  Without this, the crops prosper and eventually die off.

Colony collapse- a recent phenomenon where bees mysteriously abandon their hives- poses very serious concerns for the survival of honeybees. The exact reasons for decline colony collapse are unknown, but are often attributed to insecticide use, urbanization, GMO crops, mites, and pollution— which limits bees’ ability to find flowers.

Bees truly are fascinating. After goofing around in beekeeper outfits for a couple hours, it was easy to see why beekeeping makes such a great hobby.  It takes a minimal investment of time and money, the extra honey makes a great gift for friends, and farmers love you.  Oh, and the fact that the majority of the US food supply may come to depend on the hives of local beekeepers is also pretty enticing.  You can’t say that about stamp collecting. 😉

 

Did you know?

  • Honeybee colonies are 95% female.

  • The queen bee is the only female capable of reproducing.  She mates only once, storing the sperm in her body.  As her female worker bees pet and preen her, she secretes a toxin that keeps them sterile.

  • Bees are totally capable of staging a coup.  To overthrow their queen, the other bees will pick a particular larva to be their new queen.  By secretly feeding this larva royal jelly, the worker bees (or is it the males?) actually change the DNA of the larva from a small, sterile female worker bee into a larger, elongated and fertile queen bee.  As soon as she is born, the original queen is assassinated.

  • By ingesting small doses of allergens over time, eating local honey can help build a resistance to allergies in your area.

4 thoughts on “Day 317: Busy Bees in the Twin Cities

  1. Thanks, Mandy! We try!

    Just think- filming is almost over! With over 400 hours of footage, the podcasts and blogs are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll soon be exploring other avenues for the rest of the footage to see the light of day- a documentary? television series? educational curriculum? We’ll see.

    Hoping paths will cross,
    erika

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