Sharon Jones Zondag, the Northampton Community College Resident Beekeeper, comes from 3 generations of beekeepers in the Lehigh Valley.  She shared her passion for bees with Rotarians on Thursday, May 7, 2015.   Her information included many facts about bees that were new to many.  For example, all worker bees are female.  These bees visit approximately 12,000 blossoms a day over a 5 week life span.  Bees make honey from dandelions and clover.
The queen bee lays 1,000 to 2,000 eggs.  There are 40,000 to 60,000 bees in a hive.  The population in each hive have different “personalities”.  When bees swarm, they are looking for a new home.   Challenges to the growth of the beekeeping industry include pesticide use and declining forage.    Sharon suggested avoiding “profusion bloomer” plants that are biogenetically engineered to produce blossoms without pollen.
In order to protect honey bees in the U.S., New Jersey is pushing for statewide standards to govern and promote bee-growing industry.  In June 2014, the President allocated $50 million to set up a Pollination Task Force.
During the World War II era there were 6 million beehives in the U.S.  Today, there are 250,000 beekeepers.  Each year approximately 30-50% of the hives are lost so it is critical to replace hives and add approximately 10,000 new beekeepers each year.
  • 1/3 of the human diet is derived from pollinated plants
  • $25 billion in American crops annually rely on pollination
  • 80% of all pollination is by honey bees;  China has lost bees and must pollinate by hand.
  • Truck loads of “migrant” bees are shipped to California for pollinating almond groves
More information about honey bees can be found from Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota, HONEYBEE DEMOCRACY, a book by Tom Seeley, and “More than Honey”, a documentary on NetFlix.
From Sharon’s presentation the club now understands where “busy as a bee” and “droning on” originated!