Honey Bees

Every year the spring time arrives with blooming trees which later in the season bear large, beautiful fruits!  South Florida, in particular, is well known for its diversity and richness of tropical fruits!  We shall thank the honeybees for providing us with the opportunity to enjoy them.  Most of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts are available to us because of the honeybees.  In fact, approximately one-third of our diet comes from pollinated plants, and the honeybees are responsible for the majority of the pollination.  Even wildflowers and other flowering bushes need to be pollinated to produce berries for birds and other animals.  Needless to mention, honeybees also produce a delicious sweetener consumed by almost everyone:  Honey.  Honeybees make honey from the nectar they collect from flowers in the fields and from our gardens.  Honey is an important food source, not only for honeybees themselves, but also for other animals in the wild as well as us humans.

It is important to provide honeybees with diverse nectar sources in order to produce high quality honey.  A variety of nectars, pollen grains, minerals, and vitamins enrich the taste of natural honey.  Aside from production of honey and pollination, honeybees also produce other products which are widely used around the world.  These include pollen, royal jelly, and beeswax, which is used to make candles, cosmetic products, crayons, various polishes, and even wax figures!

The important role of honeybees in our ecosystem makes them a keystone species.  The loss of this small but mighty insect can have an enormous impact on our environment.  Colony Collapse Disorder has been discussed widely by the media since 2006, yet there are no certain causes discovered.  However, it is believed that a combination of poor diet, stress, bee diseases, and pesticide use could be the cause of the high bee mortality rate.  Therefore, now more than ever, backyard beekeeping is encouraged since backyard hives are less likely to be moved around and placed in areas where pesticide use is rather high.  In addition, all areas where beehives are located greatly benefit from the little pollinators and attract other native bees and butterflies, which only enhance the beauty of our community surroundings!

Becoming a beekeeper is not a difficult task.  The only requirements are interest in bees and dedication; the rest will follow.  It is highly recommended to learn about the life of bees and the art of beekeeping before acquiring a hive.  The best knowledge is gained through learning from experienced beekeepers.

However, if you feel like beekeeping is not something you wish to pursue, there are still things that could be done to help out our native pollinators, such as creating a beautiful bee and butterfly friendly habitat by planting Florida native wildflowers; all it takes is a small yard area or even a flower pot.  So, let’s acknowledge the importance of honeybees and listen to how they fill the air with the sound of a pleasant buzz!