Erik, one of our naturalists, wanted to post a blog about the zoo’s honeybees which often went unnoticed until the recent addition of a graphic to direct attention to the interesting colony:
ZooAmerica has been buzzing with excitement over our newly recognized honeybee colony. In the Eastern Woodlands section of the zoo, between our bobcat and great horned owl exhibit, a honeybee colony has peacefully existed alongside our animals for more than 20 years. We are proud to have these bees at ZooAmerica since it has become rare to find such a well established, wild honeybee colony. This colony could contain as many as 50,000 individuals, if not more! Do not bee alarmed! This thriving mass of bees has never shown signs of aggression towards humans. In fact, honeybees are usually not aggressive towards humans unless they are in danger.
However, honeybees are in danger. Honeybee colonies have declined considerably worldwide in recent years. Scientists are currently researching the exact causes of the decline but it is thought that a disease known as colony collapse disorder (CCD) and various pesticides and parasites are responsible. In the past year alone, honeybee colonies have declined approximately 29 percent and in the past decade, more than 90 percent of all wild honeybee colonies have been wiped out.
Honeybees are essential to our environment by serving as pollinators to many fruits, vegetables and other flowering plants. Some of these include apples, almonds, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, sunflowers and even cotton, to name a few. In fact honeybees pollinate about 90 percent our flowering crops and are thought to be responsible for 80 percent of that pollination. Honeybees are mostly popular for creation of honey and beeswax.
So the next time you visit ZooAmerica, don’t forget to look for our busy friends and take the time to appreciate what all the buzz is about!