Happy World Bee Day! May 20th was selected by the United Nations as World Bee Day thanks to the birthday of Slovenian apiculture (fancy term for beekeeper) pioneer Anton Janša, who was born this day in 1734. The UN decided to start World Bee Day to bring awareness to the worrying decline of the necessary pollinators needed to keep the world healthy.
Three out of four crops across the globe which produce fruit or seeds for human use depend on pollinators... at least in part, making bees and other pollinators extremely important (I know my lilikoi are happy when bees find the flowers).
Bee Informed Partnership estimated about 38 percent of beekeepers’ colonies in the United States died between October 1, 2018, and April 1, 2019. It wasn’t the worst recent year overall for honeybee losses (that was 2012–2013) but preliminary results showed it is the worst winter die-off recorded over the past 13 years of bee population surveys completed by University of Maryland. On average over those 13 years, about 29 percent of colonies have died EACH winter. The 2018–2019 numbers came from nearly 4,700 beekeepers, representing about 12 percent of the estimated 2.69 million U.S. hives.
We know 3 out of 4 crops are reliant on pollinators, but what about another food product bees are necessary for, honey? Let's talk about how much honey a bee produces in it's lifetime... 1/12th of a teaspoon (I was going to bold that, but thought it's be mistaken as a tablespoon, which is three times larger than a teaspoon). Yes, on average only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey is made by each bee in its ENTIRE LIFE.
The average colony makes between 40-100 pounds of honey each year. So, let's do some math. 1 teaspoon of honey weighs 1/4 of an ounce.... so it takes 12 bees to make 1/4 ounce, meaning it would take, on average, 768 bees to make a pound of honey (48 bees per ounce x 16 ounces to a pound) This means the average colony would need roughly 30,000-76,800 bees in order to make that much honey! No wonder a queen bee needs to lay up to 2000 eggs a day.