Honeybee’s Work Benefits Its Colony-and Us

— Written By and last updated by Diane Lynch

Q: How can I learn more about honey bees and beekeeping?

A: Honey bees are beneficial insects which are very important to our environment. Honey bees often get a bad name by people associating stings with them along with the misconception that they are thought to be aggressive. People who are unfamiliar with honey bees usually group them with other types of bees such as bumblebees, yellow jackets, and wasps. Honey bees are different from other types of bees in that they can produce larger amounts of honey and are social insects that function together as a colony. Within a colony, each honey bee has a job or makes a contribution to that colony.

The main reason honey bees are so important in our environment is in their role as pollinators. As honey bees travel from flower to flower, they are spreading pollen that will pollinate flowers and result in fruits and seeds. Some plants fully depend on the honey bee to spread pollen which would otherwise not be well dispersed resulting in poor pollination and poor fruit set. If we did not have the honey bee, some of our major foods would not exist. These foods would include watermelon, cucumber, almonds, blueberries, apples, squash, grapes, pumpkins, strawberries, and peaches. According to NC State University’s Department of Entomology, from 2002 to 2006 honey bees directly accounted for approximately $96 million in North Carolina’s annual fruit and vegetable production (NC State Beekeeping Note 3.14).

Honey bees are often feared because it is thought that they are aggressive. However, honey bees are not as aggressive as one might think. They are going to be aggressive only to protect themselves and their hives. Often one sees a beekeeper wearing a suit for protection which is used when conducting work in the hive. However, several beekeepers will not even wear a suit when they are simply inspecting or monitoring hives. Only when the honey bee feels threated, do they actually come across as aggressive and thus a sting may occur.

Honey bees are one of the most studied insects and it can be quite fascinating to learn how these small insects work together so efficiently in a colony to function and survive. There are many interesting facts about honey bees including a special bee dance that provides other honey bees with directions from the hive to sources of pollen and nectar.

Celebrate at Waynesborough  If honey bees and beekeeping is something that intrigues you, you can take advantage of the National Honey Bee Day Celebration being held on Saturday, August 17th at Old Waynesborough Park in Goldsboro from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The celebration is hosted by the local bee club, Beekeepers of the Neuse. This event is free and open to anyone who wants to learn more about honey bees, beekeeping, or simply gain a great appreciation for the honey bee. Attendees can learn about how to become a beekeeper, equipment a beekeepers uses, candle making, plants honey bees use for honey production, and even see an observation hive. Members of the Beekeepers of the Neuse will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about honey bees and beekeeping. Honey sales, children activities and food vendors will also be available during the celebration. Be sure to mark your calendar for this event and BEE aMAZED about the value and importance of honey bees!

For your gardening, landscape, and lawn questions contact the Wayne County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The plant clinic is a free service open to any citizen in Wayne County that has home gardening questions. One can reach the Wayne County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic by phone at 919-731-1433, e-mail at Master.Gardener@waynegov.com, or stopping by Room 100 of the Wayne County Extension Office (208 West Chestnut Street, Goldsboro). People contacting the plant clinic with questions are encouraged to bring samples and/or pictures that could help in reaching a solution. Extension Master Gardeners are trained volunteers with the Wayne County N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.

Learn More!
• Visit our website at https://wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/. Click on “Lawn & Garden” on left side of webpage.
• “Like” us on Facebook to receive timely garden tips, ask questions, and learn of upcoming gardening events. www.facebook.com/waynecountygardening

NCSU & NC A&T University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.

Jessica Strickland
Extension Agent
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Wayne County Center
P. O. Box 68
Goldsboro, NC 27533
E-Mail: jessica.strickland@waynegov.com
Phone: 919-731-1525
Fax: 919-731-1511