Honeybees

     Honeybees as a Resource Honeybees are very useful to humans. As their
name suggests, they make the sweet, delicious treat known as honey that we
enjoy. They also make beeswax from which we make many useful items. But the most
important thing bees do for us is to pollinate the plants. The honeybee visits
flowers, which secrete a sweet liquid called nectar. This water-like nectar is
sipped from the blossoms by the bee and carried to the beehive. The raw nectar
goes into the cells in almost the same condition as it was when the bee sipped
it from the flowers. It is inside the hive that house bees evaporate the nectar
down to the thick consistency, which is what we know as commercial honey. We
usually think of the main use of honey as a spread on bread, pancakes or
biscuits. However, honey has a large use in cooking; such as pastries, canned
foods, milk drinks, desserts, frostings, syrups, and salad dressings. Honey
contains simple sugars and does not require digestion like regular sugar, so it
is useful for quick energy pick up and even for diabetic people. Most honey is
sold as extracted honey but it is also sold on the honeycomb which is the wax
chambers the bees make in the hive in which to store the honey. The wax comes
from a worker bee's belly when she is fourteen to twenty-one days old. The wax
chambers are just big enough for a bee to crawl inside. Sometimes people like to
eat honeycomb. It can be eaten on toast or as is; then the wax becomes like a
chewing gum, but like chewing gum it should not be swallowed. In recent years a
new process called the Dyce process has made it possible to make a very nice
granulated honey called creamed honey, which is gaining in popularity. However,
granulated honey is not used much commercially because it is still an almost
unknown honey product. Beeswax is the second most important product produced by
the honeybees. Beeswax, the earliest of waxes, has been used in the form of
candles for lighting. This is today the second largest use of beeswax. The Roman

Catholic Church used to require that pure beeswax candles be used in church but
as the numbers of churches grew there wasn't enough beeswax available so that
now the Catholic Church requires that candles are at least 51 percent beeswax.

The reason the church requires beeswax candles is because the candles do not
smoke. Probably the largest user of beeswax today is the cosmetic industry.

Beeswax is used as the emulsifying agent in face creams, lipsticks, lotions and
rouges. It is also used in shoe polish, sporting goods and military hardware.

The beekeeper himself is the third largest user of beeswax, which he gives to
the bees as the base of their new comb. There are 70 or more commercial uses of
beeswax today. Each year in the United States some 200 million pounds of honey
and four to six million pounds of beeswax are produced. Honeybees are not the
only insect that pollinates plants, but they are the best. A lot of our food,
such as corn, tomatoes, peas, squash, strawberries, apples, pears, and
watermelon would not continue without this pollination. During the last three
weeks of a worker bee's life, they fly out of the hives as a forager. The bees
take pollen and nectar to the hive and deposit it into cells. During a foraging
trip each individual bee will collect pollen from just one kind of plant. By
doing this, each bee helps pollinate the blossoms. When the bee crawls around on
the blossom, the pollen (containing male plant reproductive cells) clings to
fine hairs located on the bee's legs. The pollen is carried from one blossom to
another blossom of the same kind of plant, where it sticks to the female part of
the flower. Without pollination plants would not produce fruit or seeds. Without
seeds now new plants could grow. Pollen is carried in small pollen baskets on
the outer sides of the bees legs. In order to fill the baskets with pollen, the
bee uses her mouth parts and scrapes the pollen from the blossoms and hairs on
her leg to secure it in the basket. The pollen is also known as "bee
bread." This is because the bee eats the pollen. When bees find a good
supply of food they use "sign language." They return to the hive and
perform a dance to show other bees where to find food. There are two kinds of
dances. The round dance tells the other bees that food is about 100 yards away
or less. The wagging dance tells bees that food is at such an angle to the sun
and how far away the food lies. Tests have been made and even if the food is
miles away, this dance is still extremely accurate. For some people bee venom is
deadly, but for some people bee venom is good medicine. Some people who have
arthritis (a swelling and pain in joints) pick up a bee by her head and hold her
tail to the sore joint until the bee stings. The venom makes the joint swell up
and this flushes out the arthritis. So as you can see, honeybees give us honey,
wax, and comb. They also pollinate our flowers. Therefore they are a very
important resource.