Hey folks! bumble here. As promised, here's a bee's take on why honey is for bees.
Now, as a bee, I know making honey is hard work. Me and my whole colony have to fly over 55,000 miles at up to 15 mph and visit more than 2 million flowers to make a single pound of honey. That's a LOT of work! Can you believe that last year, the appetite of humans in the US for honey hit a staggering 574 million pounds?!? We're literally staggering to keep up!
Left to our own devices, we honeybees would be homebodies, sticking around our local area, gathering pollen from local plants, and rubbing shoulders with all the other kinds of bees that make their homes nearby. We'd work hard, but the honey would be plentiful and future generations of bees would have more than enough to eat over the harshest winter, and new colonies would split off and make their own way in the world. There would be more balance.
But in the modern human world, honeybees like me have been given two jobs - honey producer and industrial pollinator. On one hand, our colonies are kept in hives so the honey we work so hard to make (we chew and re-chew every drop of it) can be extracted, filtered, packed, shipped and sold to markets all over the world. On the other hand, we get trucked from state to state and province to province so we can punch the clock as contract pollinators for large, often single-crop farming operations. Nothing like the farms we imagined when we were kids.
With honey worth so much to people, there isn't much left for us bees to eat, so we get a cheap sugar water substitute devoid of any real nutrients in exchange, not to mention the antibiotics it's spiked with. We're working two full time jobs, we're put on a gruelling travel schedule, we get moved around from place to place - which really messes with our navigation systems - AND we have to try to survive on a junk food diet.
As a hardworking bee, I think it's a crime we don't get to eat the real food we make for ourselves. Real natural honey. Bee food. Cow's milk has everything a baby cow needs to grow up healthy and strong. The same is true for honey and developing bees. Without it, nobody should be surprised that bees are getting sick in large numbers. Dying even.
Don't let anyone tell you bees produce more than we need. We don't think that way. Just like you probably have more food in your fridge than you plan on eating this week, bees keep gathering pollen and making honey while there's pollen to forage and space in the hive. Bees don't take inventory and decide whether to stop production. There are no factory fore-bees or bee accountants. We've learned through evolution to store up a reserve of honey for lean times ahead.
So, there you have it, folks. Next time you see a bee exploring a beautiful spring bloom, think of the work they do, and the honey they make to survive and thrive. Now you know it: Honey is for bees. If only there were a tasty alternative….
Until next time.