SIx things I get asked most about honey bees: The Local Beekeeper

The Local Beekeeper
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles from The Local Beekeeper who offers wisdom about bees and beekeeping from his life of beekeeping in the ArkLaTex. All opinions are that of The Local Beekeeper and should be viewed for entertainment purposes only. You should obtain professional advice for all medical and technical matters.

Spring is here and bees are starting swarm due to hives bulging with honey. This causes the queen to leave - often taking approximately 60% of bees with her. As a local beekeeper in the ArkLaTex, I am constantly quizzed about bees, honey and hives. Therefore, I decided to answer the six questions I get asked most about honey bees.

1. Are bees important and do we really need them?
Bees are very important because of pollination. Without bees, the world would suffer losses to agriculture which would result in foot shortages and increased hunger worldwide.

2. Is a bee hive dangerous?
Bee hives can be dangerous when the bees feel threatened. So a beehive close to your home can be a cause for concern. Of course, the primary danger is the possibility of being stung. The only problem with a few stings are that they are painful - but that's only if you are not allergic. If you are allergic, bees and their stings are dangerous. More people in Texas die from bee stings than snake bites.

3. Should I be concerned about swarming bees?
Bee swarms are generally not dangerous. Bees away from their hive, food or offspring are unlikely to sting if not provoked. But you should always be careful around bees.

4. Why would bees leave a hive?

Bees will leave a hive to follow the old queen due to lack of forage, ant invasion or a heavy amount of mites in the hive.

5. How do you get bees to move into a hive?
The best way to attract bees into a hive is to bait a hive.

6. Are bees dying out?
Yes, due to varroa mites - which are parasites that attack honey bees. A colony collapse from these mites can cause widespread economic losses worldwide because agricultural crops are pollinated by western bees.

One more thing....
An additional piece of advice for everyone in the ArkLaTex: With spring here, remember to stay out of the fly path of honey bees when you are mowing your lawn or engaging in outdoor activities. Honey bees don't want to sting you, because they die from the sting since honey bees cannot pull out their barbed stingers. Honey bees even lose part of their digestive tracts during the sting which causes an abdominal rupture. This is a phenomenon unique to honey bees.

Enjoy your spring - side by side with the honey bees - as we watch them complete their important tasks. I will see you with the next installment of The Local Beekeeper.