There are many insects and birds we depend on as pollinators in our environment. Honey bees are one well-known pollinator insects. Honey bees often get a bad name by people associating stings with them along with the misconception that they are thought to be aggressive. People that are unfamiliar with honeybees usually group them with other types of bees like bumblebees, yellow jackets, and wasps. Honey bees are different from other types of bees in that they can produce larger amounts of honey and are social insects that function together as a colony. Within a colony, each honey bee has a job or makes a contribution to that colony.
The main reason that honey bees are so important in our environment is in their role as pollinators. As honey bees travel from flower to flower, they are spreading pollen that will fertilize flowers and result in fruits and seeds. Some plants fully depend on the honeybee to spread pollen that would otherwise not be well dispersed resulting in poor pollination and poor fruit set. If we did not have the honey bee, some of our major foods would be loss. These foods would include watermelon, cucumber, almonds, blueberries, apples, squash, grapes, pumpkins, strawberries, and peaches. According to NC State University’s Department of Entomology, from 2002 to 2006 honey bees directly accounted for approximately $96 million in North Carolina’s annual fruit and vegetable production (NC State Beekeeping Note 3.14).
Honey bees are one of the most studied insects and it can be quite fascinating to learn how these small insects work together in a colony to function and survive. There are many interesting facts about honey bees including that they have a special bee dance that provides others with directions from the hive to sources of pollen and nectar.
The week of June 21-27 is National Pollinator Week. To celebrate pollinators, the Farm Credit Farmers Market will be celebrating at Pollinator Day at the Farmers Market on Saturday, June 19th. Beekeepers of the Neuse bee club will be on hand to share information and answer questions about honey bees and beekeeping. They will also have local honey for sale.
Celebrate pollinators and beekeeping by going to the Farm Credit Farmers Market on Saturday, June 19th from 9am to 2pm. Local honey and other honey products are for sell during other days at the market as well. The market is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 5:30pm and Saturdays from 9am to 2pm. The market is located behind The Maxwell Center at 3114 Wayne Memorial Drive, Goldsboro.
Jessica Strickland is an agriculture extension agent, specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.