Teaching Kids About the Importance of Honeybees

Bees might seem like something to be avoided because they can sting, but they are an important part of our world. Without bees, we might not have flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other plants. In fact, bees play a crucial part in our world. Learning about what honeybees do and why they are important could give people a new appreciation of these winged pollinators.

All About Honeybees

Honeybees are said to have originated from Southeast Asia; scientists have found fossils of some of the world's first honeybees there. Honeybees start out as eggs, which are laid by the queen bee into the honeycomb. They remain there to be fertilized and taken care of by the worker bees until they are mature and can begin working as part of the colony. Aside from pollinating plants and helping them to grow, bees create honey. This sweet and sticky substance is something that people eat often, whether it is spread on toast or mixed into tea. Bees are also responsible for making beeswax and collecting nectar, which they eat, and propolis, a sticky plant substance they use as glue in their hive.

Honeybees' Different Jobs

Honeybees live in huge colonies. Unlike bumblebees, who live in smaller groups of a few hundred, honeybees live in groups of thousands. These colonies are extremely organized, and each member has a job to do. Honeybees are super organisms, which means that they are designed to operate together in a group. Without every bee's participation, the job of creating honey will not get done. Honeybees are led by the queen bee. Her job is to reproduce and create new honeybees to add to the colony. In order to create new bees, the queen must mate with the drones, male bees of the colony. In one day, a queen can lay as many as 1,000 eggs. Then, there are the worker honeybees. It is their job to clean around the hive and help make the environment ready for new eggs to rest and hatch. The worker bees are also responsible for regulating the temperature in the hive, taking out any bees that have died, and bringing water to every other bee in the hive. All of these bees work together to maintain their hive and create honey.

Pollination

Bees pollinate flowers, which help us to grow fruits and vegetables. In this way, they are participating in biodiversity. Honeybees pollinate all kinds of flowers, including those of fruits and vegetables. Pollination is performed as bees fly from flower to flower gathering nectar. When a bee lands on a flower, some of its pollen sticks to the bee, and when the bee flies to the next flower, it brings the pollen with it. Some of the pollen then falls off onto the next flower the bee lands on, pollinating it. As the bee travels from flower to flower, it spreads pollen, too, helping the flowers to reproduce. Without bees, plants wouldn't be able to grow and multiply, including the many types of plants that humans rely on for food.

Why Honey Tastes Different From Place to Place

Honey is used all over the world both for eating straight and as an ingredient in cooking. The honeybees that created the honey determine how the honey will taste by what they were eating when they made it. For instance, clover honey, which is commonly found on grocery store shelves, is made when bees eat a lot of nectar from clover plants. Orange blossom honey tends to have a fruity flavor reminiscent of the flavor of oranges. In a place where avocado plants are widespread, the honey might turn out to be darker in color and a little richer in flavor thanks to the bees' diet of avocado flower nectar, whereas honeybees that feed on blueberry plants might create honey that has a sweeter flavor. Some types of honey are much harder to find than others due to this fact: For instance, black locust honey is rarer and more expensive because the black locust tree only blossoms every few years, meaning that bees don't have many chances to eat the nectar of this tree. If it can't be determined what the bees were eating when the honey was made, it's usually classified as "wildflower honey."

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