Have you ever wondered about bees?

What do they do? Why are they important? What is their contribution to not only the Central Highlands ecoregion but also to the entire ecosystem as a whole?

Well, let’s chat about it!

bee pollinating a purple flower

For many of us when we first think of bees we may be afraid of them and want to swat them away in fear of getting stung. But did you know that bees only sting if they feel extremely threatened? And, once they do sting, they die. So the best thing to do when a bee is hovering around you is to move away without swatting at them.

Another thing that comes to mind when we think of bees is the noise they create. We can hear one bee even when it is a few feet from us, unlike a fly for example. We can also hear a giant swarm of bees from quite a distance. Wonder why that is? It’s because bees beat their wings 11,400 times per minute! They’ve got places to go and things to do.

Why are bees important?

Bees are incredibly important creatures hence why they are found all over the world. Why is that, you ask? It is because bees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of the food we eat. Whoa! To think a creature so small plays such a huge and crucial part in our everyday lives and we mostly don’t even realize it is kind of mind-blowing. Bees deserve our thanks and support for that matter. They work so hard for not only their respective hives but also for the collective of humanity. Bees also pollinate the food of wildlife.

wheat crop

Across the world, there are 20,000 different species of bees! 4,000 of those species of bees make their home in the United States and 1,300 of those species reside in Arizona! Arizona is home to the second-largest bee population in the US. Again, whoa! The most common types of bees found across Arizona are the Western Honeybee, Western Carpenter Bee, Valley Carpenter Bee, and the Sonoran Carpenter Bee.

There is a hierarchy among bees that helps keep the integrity of the hive. There is the queen whose part is to as her name suggests, reign over the hive keeping order and organization at a top level. Her second job is to reproduce with worker bees. Worker bees are the second tier of the hierarchy and their job is to gather nectar and pollen from outside the hive and bring it back. They also assist the queen and care for the young. Each bee has its job and they execute it.

Bees in honeycomb

A few more Wonder Facts about bees:

The honey along with other things that bees create has many medicinal properties and therefore is used to create medicine. They also pollinate plants that produce 1/2 of the world’s oils, fibers, and other materials. Bees aid in preventing water runoff and stabilize soil by pollinating plants that cull those things.

Bee gathering nectar from pink flower

Bees are busy creatures and for good reason. They have an incredible impact on the planet and in every place they call home. Bees are good and not to be feared. Next time you see a bee while you are out and about or in your backyard, think of all the amazing feats the bee is accomplishing just by being a bee.

Until next time, Wonder, Explore, and Discover!

Check out our natural history classes at highlandscenter.org/adult-programs


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