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Honeybee facts

By Liz Ball / May 17, 2000



Honeybees are reluctant to sting, because their stingers stay embedded in the victim. and the attacking bees die. Unless sorely provoked, worker bees would rather just get on with their business. Guard bees stationed near the hive, however, are expected to make the sacrifice.

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The flowers of many trees are good food sources for honeybees. Among the best: maples, willows, alders, hawthorns, lindens, sourwood, poplars, southern magnolia, and black locust.

Bees prefer single-flowered, fragrant blossoms and those that have clusters of compact, small florets. They especially appreciate plants that flower in late summer or autumn such as lavender, goldenrod, asters, large sedums, sunflowers, buckwheat and clover.

Honeybees use their remarkable sense of smell to guide them to promising flowers. Within the dark hive they use their antennae (they have no noses) to recognize odors that alert them to trespassers and provide information they need to function.

Most beekeepers own European strains of bees, which are generally industrious and sweet-tempered. However, they are plagued with parasitic mites that threaten their survival. Researchers are studying other strains of bees that resist these problems. In addition to the notorious African strain, there is a promising Russian strain that is twice as resistant to the mites.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society