Is that a buzzing sound?
Why are dozens of colorful boxes stacked in this field? To provide homes inside their walls for millions of honey bees, those hardworking pollinators, producers of honey, and tormenters of Winnie-the-Pooh. Wild honey bee colonies build their nests in trees and caves, but manmade boxes also do the trick, and humans have been building their own beehives since antiquity. The modern beehive boxes shown here contain frames to hold honeycombs that bees produce to store their honey, pollen, and young. When the bees have produced plenty of honey, the beekeeper can simply remove the frames to extract some of it, leaving the rest to nourish the hive.
In honor of Honey Bee Day, we invite you to create a buzz about these important insects, because your next meal may depend on them. In fact, roughly one third of our diet comes from plants that are pollinated by insects, and the honey bee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately, honey bee populations have been declining in recent years, with some hives experiencing devastatingly high die-offs. A recent count shows that the rate of bee colony losses may be slowing, but they’re still significant—since 2006 annual winter losses are nearly double the historical winter mortality rate. While not everyone agrees on the causes of the problem, there are ways to help. If you have a yard or windowsill, consider planting ‘honey bee’ flowers such as lavender, coneflowers, and black-eyed Susans, which will provide the sugary nectar and protein-rich pollen that bees love. Happy Honey Bee Day!
Interstate 10, Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana