Welcome to the inaugural edition of ‘Captain Stan’s Creature Features,’ where we will take a look at some of the more interesting animals in the pest management universe. This month, the star of the show is one of our important non-target organisms, the honeybee (Apis mellifera) and here are interesting facts about this highly beneficial insect:
- The honeybee is the only insect that produces a food eaten by humans (and lots of other animals!)
- Bees have 5 eyes; two large compound eyes on either side of the head and 3 smaller eyes, called ocelli, in the center of the head.
- Honeybees fly about 15 miles per hour, and their wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, resulting in their distinctive buzz.
- A queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day.
- About 62 people die in the US each year from bee, wasp, and hornet stings.
- Losing its stinger results in the death of a honeybee but not wasps and hornets.
- Honeybees pollinate about 130 agricultural crops in the US, and through pollination, they are responsible for about 1/3 of everything we eat.
- In the hive, honeybees communicate both direction and distance of a food source to other bees. This is done by something called the ‘waggle dance.’
- A honeybee visits 50-100 flowers on one trip, and one forager must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.
- An average beehive can contain about 50,000 honeybees.
- And CAPT Stan’s favorite – Fermented honey, known as ‘mead,’ is the most ancient fermented beverage! Legend has it that the term ‘honeymoon’ originated with the Norse practice of consuming large quantities of mead during the first month of marriage!
Honeybees are obviously important to our ecosystems, agricultural practices, and our economy. Pest professionals should always make every effort to protect them. I recommend you check to see if your area of service has a ‘beekeeper hotline’ or other source. You can use that to find out who keeps beehives and where they are located. Bee kind to the honeybee!