A Sweet Story

*Science is exhilarating, challenging and rich with rewards. As a scientist, the bees have shown me many things.

Last week, the bees revealed a lesson on speed and stamina. At 230 wingbeats per second, on my bicycle, I clocked one gal soaring down the street at 27 miles per hour (mph)!

An indefatigable worker on a nectar run. Image credit: Reese Halter

She had an empty load. When topped-up with nectar, pollen, water or tree resin (used to make propolis, or bee glue), a honeybee can reach an impressive 20mph. She can maintain that stamina for possibly a couple miles or more.

The only sweet fuel that could supercharge them to those Olympian-like speeds is honey.

A forager drawing apple blossom nectar. She passes the nectar to other hive co-workers that dehydrate it and add a few bee enzymes to turn into honey.
Image credit: Reese Halter

Honey is loaded with 200 substances including minerals like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and sulfur. Remarkably, these minerals in specific concentrations found in honey mimic the concentration of human blood serum.

It takes 12 honeybees a combined flying distance of 6,000 miles, or, their entire foraging lives of three weeks, to produce one teaspoon of honey.

Google your local beekeepers and support them.

Honey is a powerful medicine. It also stops superbugs dead in their tracks. I suggest purchasing mountain wildflower honey because the bees are not exposed to agricultural nerve poisons like neonicotinoids, sulfoxaflors, flupyradifurone and chloropyrifos.

A busy forager packing a bulging yellow corbicula, or, pollen basket, on her hind leg.
Image credit: Reese Halter

Google your local beekeepers and support them. Avoid purchasing generic honey in the supermarkets in the U.S. Much of that honey hails from China, a country with lax chemical laws.

So what else have the honeybees taught me? We share many similarities including both enjoying a good night’s rest. We get sad together and we both seek thrills. We vote in a democracy and so do they. We both count, can be trained and associate symbols with numbers.

We recognize other human faces and so do they. We respond rather than react and so do honeybees. We both have complex languages and like to dance. We both learn whilst asleep and may dream!

A worker catching a few z’s — a refreshing mid-day nap on a plum blossom.
Image credit: Reese Halter

The honeybees embody a terrific principle that my dad taught me and my brother Jason in the 1960s: All for one, and one for all!

When practicing your social distancing on daily walks, have an eye for our incomparable co-planetary brethren – the Einsteins of the buzzing kingdom – the honeybees.





Dr. Reese Halter

Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.

Dr Reese Halter’s upcoming book is
GenZ Emergency

Tweet @RelentlessReese


America’s Bees America’s Bees America’s Bees America’s Bees America’s Bees America’s Bees America’s Bees America’s Bees

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