WV Farm Bureau Magazine July 2015 - Page 13

Fertilized eggs become female or worker bees and unfertilized eggs become male or drone bees. When the queen dies or becomes unproductive, the other bees will ‘make’ a new queen by selecting a young larva and feeding it a diet of royal jelly. Royal jelly is made of pollen, which is chewed up and mixed with a chemical secreted from a gland in the nursing bees’ heads. This milk or pollen mush is fed to all the larvae for the first two days of their lives. The larvae chosen to become queen continues to eat only royal jelly and grows one and a half times larger than an ordinary bee. Honey is a popular commodity. Barbe senior said, “There is a demand for honey and the by-products are unlimited.” By-products include everything from hand cream to candles, honey sauces and wines. But perhaps the most important benefit of bees is pollination. Pollinators are a critical link in our food system. More than 85 percent of earth’s plant species – many of which compose some of the most nutritional parts of our diet – require pollination to exist. Fiftytwo percent of grocery stores’ produce mix has to be pollinated - including apples, avocados, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, kale and greens, just to name a few. In a quote some attribute to Albert Einstein, it is said, “if bees disappear from the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” So the next time you cringe at the thought of a bee sting, think instead about all the delicioius, vital foods we would be without if it weren’t for these amazing little creatures! Fun Facts • Bees from a single hive fly 55,000 miles to make one jar of honey • Honeybees flap their wings 230 times per second • Bees communicate using a dance language that tells the direction, distance and quality of food • Honey is worth about $14.6 billion to U.S. agriculture • Honeybees pollinate more than 80 percent of the food eaten in the U.S. West Virginia Farm Bureau News 13