Nature – The Amazing Honeybee

There are approximately 20,000 species of bees in the world of which only seven species are honeybees. Of these seven species, which include 44 subspecies, only two are domesticated. Honeybee domestication dates back to at least the time of the pyramids. The most commonly kept species of domesticated honeybee is the western or European honeybee which is native to Europe, Africa and Eastern Asia. This species was also brought to North America where there were no native honeybees. Agriculture depends greatly on the honeybee for pollination and without them we would see a significant decrease in the yield of fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and that the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of this pollination.

The direct value of honeybee pollination to U.S. agriculture was studied and found to be more than $14.6 billion.

Honeybees are social insects living in colonies of 20,000 to 80,000 bees. A colony consists of mainly non-fertile female worker bees, a single fertile queen bee and 300 to 3,000 male bees called drones. Honeybees have a highly organized society, with the worker bees sequentially taking on a series of specific chores during their short lifetime—housekeeper, nursemaid, construction worker, grocer, undertaker, guard and finally, after 21 days, they become a forager collecting pollen and nectar. Worker bees, which live only about 6 weeks in warm weather, can fly up to six miles and visit 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip. The queen bee can live up to 5 years and lays up to 2,500 eggs per day.

Honeybees are best known for their production of honey which they make from nectar they collect from flowering trees and plants. They are the only insect that produces a food eaten by man. Honey is an easily digestible, pure food, and is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and water; and it’s the only food that contains pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning. Honey is also hydroscopic (moisture absorbing) and has antibacterial qualities. Eating local honey can fend off allergies. There are many types, colors and flavors of honey, depending on the source of the nectar; with clover honey being an example of one type that is very popular.

Like the honeybee’s honey which is so sweet to the taste and so good for us in many ways, so are God’s laws for us if we would keep them:

“In keeping God’s commandments there is great reward, even in this life. If we are obedient, our conscience does not condemn us. Our hearts are not at enmity with God, but at peace with Him. ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb. Moreover by them is Thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward’ [Psalm 19:7–11]. ‘The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them’ [Psalm 103:17, 18].” The Signs of the Times, January 25, 1899.

David Arbour writes from his home in De Queen, Arkansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: