More than HALF of all honey bees in the USA have DIED in the last 10 years! Extinction looms! Bayer company makes widely-used pesticides that contain neonicotinoids, a most unnatural chemical that causes brain damage in bees so that they cannot find their way home and quickly die. The whole colony can collapse (Colony Collapse Disorder) with the death of all the worker bees, the drones, and the queen herself. Wake up America! The EPA knows that specific pesticides are killing off our bees, and yet refuses to take on the corporate profit machine (we know this thanks to Edward Snowden). According to Albert Einstein, humans would die off in only four years after the extinction of the honey bee. (We are all familiar with his famous equation, H=bp2, or Honey equals the bees times pollen squared.)
The social structure of the bee hive is both complex and fascinating. A thriving hive can contain 60,000 bees who are mostly female worker bees always on the go, but it also contains the larger and stinger-less male drones who mate with the queen and rarely leave the inner hive. The one Queen Bee, who can lay well over 100,000 brood eggs in her lifetime, lives at the center of the hive. When it gets too hot, a squad of bees provides wing-powered AC by buzzing the hot air out of the hive. Still too hot? Some of the brood-tending bees will gather in front of the hive in a large clump to cool things off inside.
A single hive can hold hundreds of pounds of honey and pollen in its beeswax combs. Bees turn raw pollen into "bee cake" for food, raw nectar into honey for food, and the bees also produce wax that they shape into combs, propolis (a natural antibiotic) that is used to line the inner hive, and Royal Jelly which is fed to all of the young brood and also the adult queen bee. Royal jelly is loaded with protein, healthy fatty acids, numerous vitamins, minerals and enzymes, as well as having antibacterial properties. Beeswax burns clean, whereas, paraffin, a petroleum product used in candles, burns toxic. Bee pollen is very beneficial for hay fever and allergies to pollen. The more local the pollen, the better for your allergies. My bees bring back pollen in many colors, currently deep and light orange, pale yellow and dull white. They mix pollen with some honey to make their special bee cake and then pack it into comb cells for future use. They also pack raw honey for food. Here in central California, some varieties of pollen and/or nectar are available all year round, so they continue to forage and feed.
Unlike many humans, bees work together for the good of the future hive, more like an extended family. Even though worker bees die in a few months, they spend their entire lives gathering nectar and pollen to stash as food for the future group of unborn hive members who will live off that stored food for the lean winter months. They land on each other and hang all over each other and never get irritated about the close quarters. But if you are not a hive member, you are considered a threat and will be attacked. Stray bees who try to rob my hive are immediately pounced upon by the guard bees, and stung and killed. Both bees die, but the hive is protected. Ants are a different matter. The beekeeper must step in to ward off these robber barons and help the bee colony keep its honey.
Dear Vegans: Eat more honey! Without beekeepers tending bees, they would be disappearing even faster! We, the American beekeepers, keep your fruits and vegetables pollinated so that you have vegan food on your table. Unless you are willing to climb up into an avocado tree and hand pollinate every flower for the entire bloom time, they will literally disappear from the Earth altogether without bees. Bees are disappearing in geometric proportions. Do the math.
In the end, one hive can pollinate over 300 million flowers in a single day! One hive can produce up to 150 pounds of honey each year with enough left for the bees to be happy. A hive also produces beeswax, bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly. In regards to bee pollen, here I agree with the vegans. Bee pollen traps scrape off the pollen as the bees enter the hive, causing limbs to sever and harm to the bees. If you really care about the bees, refuse to support this method of pollen collection. But as to honey collection, it is typically done without harm to the bees. Honey is a super food put here by God and made by bees for humans to responsibly enjoy. Honey is healthy, and honey bees are essential to life.