Swarming is a process by which a new bee colony is formed, when the queen bee leaves the colony to worker bees. Bees can make their hives in any hollow, tree, or crevice depending on what a scout bee thinks is a good place. They chew on wax to make it soft and use it to bond and fuse the cells of a honeycomb. Honey bee hives are made of six-sided tubes, the ideal shape for optimal honey production because they require less wax and hold more honey.
Honey bees collect pollen and nectar as their food while pollinating plants. The nectar stored in their stomachs is passed from one worker to the next until the water within it reduces. At this point, the nectar becomes honey, which workers store in the cells of the honeycomb. For millions of years honey bees have been pollinating flowers. The goal of any plant is reproduction and bees help accomplish this by transferring pollen, a plant’s male sperm cells, from one flower to another. Without pollination, many plants would not be able to procreate and eventually would die out. We benefit from this by getting fruits, vegetables and of course, honey.
Since the early 2000s bee keepers have been noticing a decline in their bee populations and researchers have been trying to understand why and how to fix it. Harsh winters in some of the honey producing states plus shorter springs have definitely contributed to this reduction. A combination of insecticide and fungicide has also caused the rapid death of several hives around the world. In the last half decade alone 30% of the national bee population has disappeared and nearly a third of all colonies in the U.S. have perished. If this continues, we can say goodbye to more than a 100 fruits and vegetables we need to survive.
The USDA recommends increased collaboration between crop growers and beekeepers to implement mutually beneficial best known practices. Implementing programs to train amateur bee keepers so more colonies can be created would help with reduce this drastic decline. With increasing awareness in the importance of nurturing bees on a global scale, there is a chance that this potential disaster can be fixed.