Busy Bees

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

--Isaac Watts, Against Idleness and Mischief


 Do you like honey on your toast? Thank a bee! Actually thank about 100,000 bees. That's how many can live in one hive! "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…" (It would take you about 27 hours of non-stop thanking to thank each bee in one hive.) Bees make honey by collecting nectar from flowers and carrying it back to their hive. They put it in a little wax cell. Then bees fan their wings over the nectar to help the water evaporate from it. When most of the water has evaporated, what's left is honey. They cover the cell with wax to save the honey for later. When a beekeeper's hive has more honey than the bees need to eat, the beekeeper harvests it.

Do you like blueberries, blackberries, cherries, or apples? Thank the bees again! They're the ones who pollinate the flowers so there will be fruit. When a bee crawls around on a flower, pollen sticks to its furry body. When it lands on another flower, some of the pollen will be brushed off and fertilize the flower allowing a fruit to form. Farmers actually rent bees to pollinate their crops! Beekeepers load their hives onto trucks and take them to the farm where a crop needs pollination.

The only trouble with bees is they can sting. Ouch! They don't want to, though. If a honeybee stings someone, the bee itself dies. They only sting to protect themselves or their hive. If you don't step on them, swat at them, or bang on their hive, they are very peaceful little critters. In fact, I have two beehives in my yard and one in my barn. The bees fly calmly back and forth all day. Sometimes one will bump into me accidentally, bounce off, and fly away.

Take a look at this list for books and stories about bees.