“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left”, Albert Einstein.
The bee is responsible for most of the pollination of the plants (a beehive can pollinate 120000 flowers a day!) and without it, the plant kingdom could not reproduce and give us its fruits.
Without food from the kingdom of the plants our nutrition chain would simply break…
Let’s take things form the start: nature created the bee at about the same time it created the first flowers. The oldest fossil we have found is 100.000.000 years old and the bee of that time had the same morphological features with the bee nowadays, but its size was similar to that of a mosquito. (the size of the flowers was accordingly relative)
Now let us take a close look at this special insect. Its most important feature is organizing a society. It creates a “society” that many call a “super-corporation”. There is one unique Queen Bee – Mother, who has actually given birth to the rest of the beehive inhabitants (they usually come up to 60000!) the queen is impressively larger than the rest of them (and the only female with genitals). It lives for about 5 years (which is a huge amount of time for an insect, when the rest of the bees live up to 3 months and gives birth to 2500 eggs daily in order to keep the beehive population in its normal standards.
The other one responsible for these eggs is her co-habitant in the beehive, the drone, whose main mission is exactly the fertilization of the queen. There are only a few drones (just enough to cater for nature’s needs so that the queen’s fertilization is secured and there is a “rivalry” situation, which works for the natural prevalence of the most powerful in fertilizing the queen).
The result of this coupling are the “workers”, the 95% of the beehive population. They are the female bees with no reproduction organs, which, depending on their age and the needs of the beehive, share -in absolute agreement- all the works.
They travel 10 – 12 times outside the hive, in order to collect pollen and nectar. In every one of these journeys they visit almost 300 flowers and bring back to the hive almost 0,03 gr of nectar which they deliver to other workers; those latter have the duty to dehydrate the nectar (following a mechanical procedure) and store it in the cells of the honeycomb. One can easily estimate that, in order to eat a spoonful of honey, 12-14 bees have to work for their entire life, without taking into account those who help in the dehydration.
They take care of and feed the queen and its brood (their sisters).
They keep the beehive clean, sterilized (with the help of propolis, the remedy they compose themselves and they regulate the temperature and hydration levels (putting up a natural air conditioning system with the special movement of their wings in the entrance) so that the situation is ideal for the babies to be brought up and for the food to be stored.
They fight to their last breath (and most of us have experienced it) when the beehive is in danger. This is another proof of the sense of community that distinguishes bees, since the “ego” seems not to exist and she rather feels part of a super-organism which is called the “hive”.
They use the wax secreted by their glands in order to build their sort (the honey comb), in a hexagon shape that provokes modern architects, since it has been proved that this is a way to build with the less possible material(wax) yet the most possible storage space and stability of the building!
Naturally, since one cannot co-operate without communication, they do speak with each other in the waggle dance. This is a combination of wing movements and steps in straight and hemi-circular lines through which for example the bee-scout explains to the rest of the bees where the food is in relation to the beehive!
Thus, they achieve to manage their activities and, besides the help they offer to Nature, they give us their wonderful, nutritional and therapeutic products! It is obvious that 100.000.000 years of evolution and team-work can do miracles!
Demetriow Selianakis – Expert Beekeeper