National Honey Bee Day, a holiday started by beekeepers to spread awareness about the bee industry in 2009, takes off on August 7. According to the National Honey Bee Day program, the goal is to “Bring together beekeepers, bee associations, as well as other interested groups to connect with the communities to advance beekeeping.”
In case you haven’t heard, bees are becoming extinct the world over. According to the BBC, one in 10 bees face extinction in Europe. Back in May, researchers at the Bee Informed Partnership, declared over 40 percent of honeybee hives died this past year. To put it into context, this is the second-highest annual loss recorded to date.
Some of you may be thinking, “So what? They’re just bugs.” Well, they are more than just bugs, bees are extremely important to the livelihood of our planet. For example, bees help pollinate one-sixth of all plant species globally and about 400 different types of agricultural plants. As a way of observing National Honey Bee Day, here are some remarkable facts about bees and honey.
In 2010 honeybees and the other pollinators aided in the production of roughly $19 billion worth of agricultural crops (about one-third of all food consumed) in the U.S. alone. Other animal pollinators like bats, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds, ants, and beetles only contributed to an estimated $10 billion in the same year. Our reliance on bee pollination for food sustainability is tremendously crucial.
Broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, almonds, apples, cranberries, and cherries are just a few examples of foods that would no longer be available without the help of bee pollination. Of course, who could forget honey? Valued at $317.1 million in 2013, the honey crop is probably the most valued crop in the world due to it’s rarity, varied use, and tedious extraction method.
Honey has long been hailed a “superfood,” and it’s easy to see why. Studies have shown honey helps heal wounds and burns due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Who knew honey naturally contains things like hydrogen peroxide, methulglyoxal, bee defensin-1, six species of lactobacilli, and four species of bifidobacteria? In ancient times, raw honey was used to dress wounds and is said to reduce healing time.
Because honey is an anti-inflammatory, adding a spoonful of it to tea or hot water has been widely accepted as a home remedy for sore throats. Honey is also said to boost the immune system by fueling white blood cells, which combat infections and viruses that attack the body.
There’s a reason why some of the most popular lip balms contain beeswax. Vitamin E, antioxidants, and other essential vitamins are naturally found in honey, which fight aging while smoothing the skin.
As odd as it sounds, mixing a small amount of honey with water can actually prevent tooth decay due to its antibacterial properties. Sweet-tooths all over the world can rejoice!
Anyone who’s seen Makaulie Culkin’s character get attacked by a swarm of bees in My Girl knows not to mess with bees. Though bees may be nature’s gift, they’re also creatures that need to be respected. If you are stung by a bee and feel dizziness, increase in heart rate, a tingling sensation in your mouth, and have an overwhelming sense of anxiety, get medical help immediately. For those of you who are allergic to bees, keep an EpiPen in the medicine cabinet in case you get stung.
It’s common knowledge honeybees are slaves to their queen. Honeybee colonies can crop up anywhere, so it’s important to be prepared for a swarm. A swarm occurs whenever the queen departs the nest or dies, wherein 60 percent of the colony leaves the hive and tries to find a new “home.”
The most important thing to remember is these incidents are not “attacks.” It’s a common misconception bee swarms are violent, but honeybees are not belligerent in anyway. Many times, a swarm never results in stinging. If you happen to come across a swarm, the best things to do are run and seek shelter. If you are stung, remove all stingers from the skin and apply an antihistamine.
Although this reason is mostly aesthetic, it’s important nonetheless. By pollinating flowers, bees insure the simple, everlasting splendor of flowers remains in tact. Flowers also offer appealing habitats for animals like birds and insects. A world without bees is a world without flowers, and what a sad world that would bee!
Who else thinks bees are sweet?