Honeybees Are Fascinating by Andi Magnson on April 15,2017

A honeybee collecting nectar and pollen on a strawberry plant at Matt Britt's farm in Lafayette County Mississippi. Photo taken by Andi Magnuson on 4/13/2017.

Honeybees are very interesting little insects.

They use body language to communicate to the other bees in their hive and they are very useful pollinators.

"If a honeybee goes out and finds an apple tree," Neil Aldridge, a beekeeper in Tate County Mississippi said. "Then, the bee will come back and do a dance to tell the other bees the location of the food source."

The waggle dance is very specific. When doing the waggle dance bees communicate how far away food is by using the distances away from the sun.

Video provided by the Smithsonian Channel on www.YouTube.com.

"Make no mistake every bit of the dance is significant," www.beeinformed.org.

Honeybees do anywhere between 1 to 100 dance moves when doing the waggle dance and they do a figure eight pattern while fluttering their wings. Then they do a straight walk in the middle to instruct the other bees.

Honeybees are very important to agriculture in Mississippi. In fact, the honeybee is the state insect for Mississippi because of their huge impact.

"Honeybees pollinate everything from corn to peach trees," Orville Robertson, a farmer from the outskirts of Lafayette County said.

They contribute to 1/3 of the food eaten in the United States. Try to imagine how a grocery store would look if 1/3 of the food was taken out.

"Without honeybees there are no seedless watermelons ," Matt Britt, a local farmer in Lafayette County said.

Farmers are concerned about the decline in honeybees because their crops rely on them. So far, there is not a definitive answer as to why the honeybees are declining, but there are factors that may be contributing to the decline.

"I think chemicals and sugar water feeding are some of the main reasons for the honeybee decline," Aldridge said.

Tim Durham a major honeybee farmer in Walls, Mississippi presents how to feed bees. Video provided by Walls Bee Man on www.YouTube.com .

But he is not the only farmer in Mississippi that thinks there is a link between the decrease of honey bees and chemical pesticides.

"I think the main thing that is causing the decline in honeybees is the chemicals," Robertson said.

Chemicals and sugar water are not the only problems for the bees. There are many factors that also contribute to the loss of honeybees such as climate change, disease, mites, wax moths and etc.

"Wax moths will destroy the hive if you are not careful," Aldridge said.

Another problem was discovered in 2008 called Colony Collapse Disorder. Symptoms for Colony Collapse Disorder are:

  • "rapid loss of adult worker bees,
  • few or no dead bees found in the hive
  • presence of immature bees (brood),
  • small cluster of bees with live queen present and
  • pollen and honey stores in the hive," www.fas.org.

Honeybees are on a constant decline in Mississippi and across the United States. The United States is at a 44 percent loss from last year. But there are some ways to help.

"People can help with the declining honeybee population by using as little chemicals as possible." Aldridge said. "If you see a swarm call someone to collect them and plant flowers that produce nectar."

Bees on Matt Britt's farm in Lafayette County, Mississippi. Photos taken by Andi Magnuson.

Credits:

Honeybees on Matt Britt's Lafayette County, Mississippi farm. Photos taken by Andi Magnuson.

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