By Carrie Dungan
Buzzz … you might want to think twice before swatting that honey bee singing in your ear. The honey bee population is dwindling at the rate of 40 percent per year due to pests, pesticides and monoculture.
This is just one interesting tidbit Families learned Saturday at Smith Lake Recreation Area during Family and Morale, Welfare and Education’s first Outdoor Education Program of the summer. The program focused on honey bees and was led by Kenny Jones, president, Cumberland County Beekeeper’s Association.
Jones interacted with Families throughout his presentation, and sought input from the audience for some basic questions about honey bees. Dominic Quiroz, 6, raised his hand to answer several questions, and his mom, Jacqueline, said she was surprised by his level of knowledge.
However, Dominic had a question of his own. He asked Jones to explain how bees make the delicious honey enjoyed by so many in the community.
According to Jones, the process for honey-making isn’t quite as appetizing as the end result. After collecting flower nectar in their honey stomach, forager bees transfer the nectar to another bee’s mouth, where they chew it before passing it onto another bee. Eventually, a bee deposits the product into honeycomb cells for storage.
A forager bee is also known as a worker bee, which is just one of three different bee types present in a hive, explained Jones. A queen bee spends her life laying eggs and populating the hive, while drones are the only male bees present and serve the sole purpose of mating with the queen.
Worker bees represent 60 to 90 percent of a colony, which can usually have 30,000 to 60,000 bees in a hive, Jones said.
Some ways people can promote bee populations are to plant several kinds of flowers, have a water fountain for hydration (with stones so the bees don’t drown), and limit the use of pesticides, especially during midday, which is peak bee foraging time, according to Rebekah Jones, a certified beekeeper.
“We don’t all have to be beekeepers to take care of bees,” she said.