An Introduction to Honey Bees

Everyone, meet the honey bee. One of our world’s most miraculous creatures. These little insects are the pollinators that most of our crops depend on to set fruit. Honey bees are so important, in fact, that we have them to thank for 1/3 of the food we eat, including 80% of our fruits and vegetables. Crops that are highly dependant on honey bee pollination include avocado, almonds, kiwi and apples.

Revered since ancient times, bees have provided cultures worldwide with honey, beeswax, propolis (hive sealant), and pollen for thousands of years. Honey bees were certainly a valuable resource and were often considered sacred. Many cultures protected the bees, as well as the trees that held their hives. Beekeeping, or apiculture, has ancient roots as well, with large-scale artificial hives found in Israel, Egypt, Greece and China dating to over 3,000 years ago.

The most precious resource from honey bees is their honey. The honey that these bees produce is so sugary and low in water content that bacteria struggle to thrive. The bees make the honey as a valuable food source to last through the winter. Honey also has special properties. It has been used to dress wounds, soothe coughs and treat burns and ulcers for centuries. It also aids in preservation, lasting for decades if kept in a cold, dry place.

Some fun facts about honey bees:

  • A honey bee’s wings beat 200 per minute
  • Honey bees can fly up to 15mph
  • The queen bee is the only honey bee in a colony who can lay eggs — up to 2,000 a day
  • Queen bees can live up to 5 years
  • There are between 30,000 and 60,000 worker bees in an average hive
  • One hive can make up to 100 pounds of honey a year

So next time you eat a bit of honey, or light up with our I-Tal Hempwicks, don’t forget to thank the miraculous honey bees!