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To Bee, or Not to Bee

Mandy Bishop, Reporter

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With summer approaching, bees are making their famous return to the flower fields. It’s widely known that bees serve as pollinators for flowers, but what one may not know is that pollination is the foundation of most of the food humans consume. But, the tragedy of this superhero insect is the rapid disappearance of the species, posing a possibility of an extinction. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants—including food crops—would die off.

There are over 25,000 known species of bees, with new ones yet to be discovered. Among these is the most commonly known: honeybee. Honeybees date back millions of years ago, popular for their title name of producing honey. There are basically three types of bees within a species: workers, drones, and the queen. Worker bees are the largest group averaging about 60,000 in the hive during the peak midsummer season. These female bees may be small but they play a large role: nursing babies, collecting food for the queen, and making and capping the honey. Drone bees are the males of the hive whose main purpose is to mate with the queen. The queen, last but certainly not least, is the single most vital bee in the hive though she does not control the hive. Worker bees in fact have the ability to overthrow their queen in a worker bee coup.

Although known for their delicious honey, cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive. What does that mean for humans? Beekeeper Susan Walker states that “basically all the food we eat is pollinated by bees, but it’s not only the vegetables we have to worry about. Some of the clovers and grass that cows and livestock eat is pollinated so most of our resources would be disappearing along with them.” Leila Zefri, who devoted her senior project to learning more about bees, notes that “bees not only benefit humans food sources, but they also kill off other insects,” living a symbiotic lifestyle with humans.

Now that it is known that bees are a vital part of the ecosystem, it is time to prevent a possible extinction and protect the ones left. When coming in contact with a bee, do not panic. Bees are typically not going to sting arbitrarily due to their imminent death following an attack, so if they sense no immediate danger they will most likely carry on with their buzz-ness. Local beekeeper PJ Campbell advises one to “not see bees as a threat, and to just ignore them if they are near you.” Call a local beekeeper if you see a swarm in a public area, and most importantly spread awareness about the importance of bees in our society.

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The student news site of A. C. Reynolds High School.
To Bee, or Not to Bee