Education Blog

Good Things Come in Small Packages

By Christine Tylee (Stewardship Coordinator)

Growing up, I was always the smallest kid in the class.  When we would line up to leave the room, I knew it was back of the line for me.  Some may think size indicates your strength and significance.  I mean, look at bison, lions, elephants and gorillas- they sure do get a lot of attention! However, this is not the case for some other creatures.  For instance, an ant is one of the strongest animals relative to its size.  They can carry items up to 50 times their own body weight! Monarch butterflies are the only insect that will migrate thousands of miles across the country to escape the cold weather.  In one case, a monarch butterfly traveled 265 miles in just one day. What a workout! Cicadas, which range between .75 inches and 2.25 inches, are partly responsible for those beautiful summer sounds we love so much.  Male cicadas produce this sound with vibrating membranes on their abdomens. I bet they’ve got a nice 6 pack!

monarch

One insect in particular stands out though.  With the warm weather rolling in and the daffodils blooming, we will be welcoming the emergence of a special little someone- the bee! As I watch a bee sitting atop a coneflower, the phrase my mother always told me comes to mind, “Good things come in small packages”.   Over the past few years, these little guys have gotten the attention they need, mainly due to the drastic decline of their population known as colony- collapse disorder.  Honeybees stand at an astounding average of .5 inches, about the size of a paperclip.  I no longer feel like the smallest one in the room.  I think you would all agree that they have a very important job, pollination.  In other words, they keep this world alive! I’d say that’s worth acknowledging.

Bee

Fun Bee Facts:

  • Three kinds of bees in a hive; Queen (fed the “royal jelly”, the only female who lays eggs-approximately 1,500 eggs per day), Worker (females, they sure do earn their name.  They forage for food, build and protect the hive, take care of the Queen and beat their wings to circulate air) Drone (males, their life goal is to mate with the Queen).
  • A bee can visit between 50-1,000 flowers in one trip (30 minutes- 4 hours).
  • Bees pollinate 80% of our flowering crops, which constitutes 1/3 of everything we eat.
  • In colder months, worker bees can live up to nine months but being that bees work so hard in summer months, sadly, they rarely live past six weeks.
  • Bees have not one, but two stomachs!  One stomach is for eating and the other special stomach is for storing nectar or water so that they can carry it back to their hive.
  • Honey was found in the tombs in Egypt and it was still edible! Bees have been here for nearly 30 million years.
  • A hive in summer can have 50,000-80,000 bees! Wow, that’s a lot of bees! A bee must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 single pound of honey. It requires 556 worker bees to gather a pound of honey.

HiveWays You Can Help:

  • Do not spray pesticides in your yard. If bees are exposed to nectar and pollen from a pesticide-ridden plant, the pesticide will affect their internal radar and they may never return to their hive.
  • Keep those dandelions on your lawn.  Bees love these!
  • Plant native plants with blue and yellow flowers to attract bees.
  • Know and support your local beekeeper- they do what’s in the best interest for the bees.
  • Become a beekeeper yourself!

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