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|Thank a Honeybee for Jack-O-Lanterns, Pumpkin Pie
|Those pumpkins for Halloween jack-o-lanterns or for Thanksgiving pumpkin pie were probably made possible by domestic honeybees.
With smaller wild honeybee populations because of pests and disease, Illinois fruit and vegetable growers are relying more on beekeepers to pollinate crops. Steve Chard, apiary inspection supervisor at the Illinois Department of Agriculture, says demand for honeybees keeps growing. "In Illinois, they're primarily in Northern, Northeastern Illinois, but they actually custom pollinate crops, melons, pumpkins, apples, strawberries and the like," he says.
But those beekeepers are in danger of losing their honeybees to something called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. It hasn't been found in Illinois yet, but bee colony inspectors check every colony for signs of it. If it does show up, Chard says there's nothing anyone can do because researchers don't know what causes it. "If CCD entered Illinois, and it was a major problem, it would have a big impact on fruits and vegetables," he says. "Honeybees pollinate about a third of the plants that produce food that's consumed by humankind."
Illinois has a little more than 1,300 beekeepers and the state checks each one periodically.
* A honeybee must visit about 2 million flowers to make a pound of honey.
* Bees are required to make a total flight path equivalent to 3 orbits around the earth to make 1 pound of honey.
* The average worker bee lives for only 6 weeks during the summer and makes 1/2 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
* During the summer, one normal colony of bees contains 1 queen, 300 drones (male bees), and 50,000 workers (female bees).
* Bees use honey for flight fuel. They obtain approximately 7 million miles per gallon of honey.
* A bee flies at 15 mph.
* Bees have 5 eyes and 4 wings.
* There are 1,329 beekeepers in Illinois, keeping nearly 20,000 colonies of honeybees.
* There are more than 2.9 million honeybee colonies in the United States.
* The value of honeybee pollination to U.S. Agriculture is approximately $14.6 billion.
(Illinois Radio Network)
|10 25 08 by Newsroom
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