Environment Picture

Honeybees: Masters of design, economy, communication and teamwork

Summer’s colorful riot of flowers and fresh vegetables doesn’t happen without a little help from our friend, the humble honeybee. They pollinate those plants and provide tasty Michigan honey for our tables!

At the Michigan Environmental Council, fifth-generation beekeeper Tim Fischer (deputy policy director and patriarch of Fischer Farms) has been watching with chagrin and amusement as Hugh McDiarmid (communications director) completes the Southeast Michigan Beekeepers Association’s (SEMBA) 2011 novice Beekeeping School.

Whether McDiarmid’s lone beehive will thrive is still an open question at press time, but we did learn enough to offer this issue’s quiz on bee facts. See how you do!

1 Michigan’s fruit and vegetable crops are worth more than $2 billion annually. What amount is dependent on honeybee pollination?
a) All $2 billion
b) $978 million
c) $440 million
d) None, pollination is now automated

2 What percentage of Michigan’s nationally renowned cherry crop is pollinated by honeybees?
a) 100 percent
b) 90 percent
c) 50 percent
d) Seriously, there’s an app for that

3 Roughly how many flowers must bees visit to provide enough raw material to make one pound of honey?
a) 20,000
b) 200,000
c) 2 million
d) 20 million

4 When bees dance inside the hive they are:
a) Stoned on pollen
b) Communicating distance and direction to awesome pollen and nectar sources
c) Warning bees from other hives not to raid their honey
d) Creating heat to keep the hive temperature constant

5 Bees keep the temperature inside the hive at what level, even on sub-zero days?
a) 40 degrees
b) 64 degrees
c) 93 degrees
d) 110 degrees

6 A queen will mate with up to how many drones during her mating flight?
a) 3
b) 20
c) 70
d) It depends if she’s taping a reality show that day

7 Among the many reasons honeybee stings are such a pain are:
a) The stingers have their own muscles and nerves, so they keep pumping venom even when detached
b) Stingers have barbs, like a fishhook
c) The sting releases pheromones, which stimulate defensive behavior in the other bees
d) All of the above

8 What technique do beekeepers use to calm the bees before opening a hive?
a) Playing audio of Gregorian chants
b) Misting the hive with insecticide
c) Blowing smoke into the hive
d) Signing a peace treaty with the queen

9 About how many calories are in a tablespoon of honey?
a) 15
b) 60
c) 100
d) 150

10 The bees’ honeycomb design has been adopted in many structural engineering applications because of its:
a) Efficient use of space
b) Strength and durability
c) Efficient use of minimal building material
d) All of the above

Answers:
1-b, $978 million.
2-b, 90 percent.
3-c, 2 million.
4-b, communicating where the pollen is.
5-c, 93 degrees.
6-b, up to 20.
7-d, all of the above.
8-c, smoking the bees.
9-b, 60 calories.
10-d, all of the above.
-Hugh McDiarmid, Jr.
RELATED TOPICS: agriculture
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