Bees are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think agriculture. However, bees just happen to be a huge part of agriculture. Just ask Janna Butler. She can tell you all about them.
Bees are hard workers. They must accomplish a lot in their short lives, which are only about 45 days. They don’t have time to mess around. Bees actually work for their whole lives, starting at day one. For the first few days of their life, they clean the hive. For another nine days, they feed the larvae. They must make beeswax for six days and guard the entrance of the hive for several more. From then on, they collect pollen until they die. No wonder we use the expression, “busy as a bee!”
Although bees can produce about 100 pounds of honey in a good summer, they make other things, too, like beeswax and bee pollen, which has protein that they feed to the babies. They also make propolis. Now, what on earth is propolis? Propolis is a glue-like substance that the bees use the keep them warm in winter. Propolis is also used in products we used, like toothpaste. Interesting, huh?
Colorado is a great place for bees. Why wouldn’t it be? It has the plains that bees like, and the right climate. Bees also like places with alfalfa, which Colorado has. Bees are not typically fans of the mountains, but there are other places to settle. Actually, only wild bees will have to choose where to live. Domestic bees, the ones that give us honey, live in bee boxes, which people can keep in their backyards. In fact, Janna Butler has a few.
Janna Butler is a big fan of bees. She has three inhabited bee boxes of her own, which she loves and is proud of. She is a big fan of the bees that pollinate her garden. “Five out of six of our foods require bees,” she says. “Without them, we’d have a lot less.”
So next time you see a bee, don’t kill it. It plays a big part in agriculture. Maybe now you can watch it fly and think about how interesting it is. Want to learn more? Just ask Janna Butler, bee expert!