Benefits of Beekeeping
Currently in the United States there are three million bee colonies being managed by 250,000 beekeepers. These bees are vital in the pollination service of a wide variety of crops that this nation consumes. From the hive, bees pollinate a three to four mile radius of flowers and crops and usually travel at an altitude of two hundred feet. These bees that our nation is so dependent on for crop pollination are in decline as a result of the Varroa Mites first discovered in Wisconsin in September of 1987. These Varroa Mites are now a national epidemic and according to a 2006 Congressional report the U.S. bee populace has decreased by 31% in the twenty years since the Varroa mite was discovered. Beekeeping and colony management has enabled the American Farming industry to effectively pollinate crops in order to produce the food we take for granted.
Bee SafetySeek immediate medical attention if:
- You have difficulty breathing
- You have been stung many times
- You are allergic to bees
- Get away from the bees as fast as possible
- Protect your face and eyes
- Go to an enclosed area such as a building or car
The byproducts of beekeeping are beeswax and honey. Beeswax is used in cosmetics and polishes as well as making candles. The honey is used in many ways to improve the taste of a variety of foods. For Rhode Island College there are many benefits to beekeeping. They will pollinate plants on campus that bring an aesthetic value to RIC's landscaping. There is an educational component in the biodiversity that the bees can bring to the area. They can be studied in terms of their function and productivity in the area in which they operate.
The national range of those allergic to bees is only .5 to 2% of the U.S. population. Epi pens are available on campus at Health Services. Bees are only aggressive when provoked. When left alone bees are docile and extremely productive. The defense mechanism of the honey bee goes into effect when the queen is in danger or the safety of the hive is in jeopardy. Simply put, if we leave them alone then they will leave us alone. Honeybees pollinate one third of all the food we eat. Without bees our diets would be drastically affected as we would go without many fruits and vegetables. Honeybees would have a positive effect on RIC's campus in regards to both education and biodiversity.
Facts on Honey Bees
- A well-managed colony can produce 100 lbs. of honey per year
- Honey has an endless shelf life
- Worker Bees live 4-6 weeks in the summer; 2-3 months in the winter
- Queen Bee can live 3-4 years producing 1500-3000 eggs per day
- To produce a pound of honey, bees will visit 2 million flowers and travel 55,000 miles
- Honey Bees can fly at 25 mph
- Beeswax is a natural wax, with the highest burning temperature
- Beeswax is used to wax skis, snowboards and surfboards
- Honey Bees account for 80 percent of all pollination done by insects