Nature Field Note

 Bees in Brazil: Nature Field Note 

Abstract

Watch out for the bees! Do you know what an apiary is? It’s a place where thousands of bees are raised and kept in order to collect their honey. Do you think you’d want to hang out at a place like this every day? I got to visit an apiary and learn how bees produce honey, and how humans collect the honey for themselves and prepare it for eating.

Introduction

An apiary – Where bees live and their honey is harvested

Bees are definitely not my favorite creatures. In fact, I’m really scared of them! However, I recently got to learn a lot of new things about bees. They are very interesting insects that are very important to the environment and nature. We visited an apiary in a rural area of Brazil where several different farmers keep their bees, collect the honey and prepare it to be sold. The honey here is harvested from a type of bee that is native to Brazil. This particular bee is very different from the bees that we are used to seeing.

What does this creature or plant look like?

The meliponini bee that we saw at the apiary is similar to a bumblebee, but about half the size. The bee is all black, and does not have the fuzzy texture like bees that we see around the United States. It could almost be mistaken for a fly, but I could hear the distinctive buzz of a bee as it set out to do its work. In each hive, there were about 500 bees. While this seems like a lot, other species of bees have even more bees in each hive!

How did I feel when I saw it?

Normally, when I see a bee I run in the opposite direction for fear of being stung! However, these flying friends did not make me flee. Why? Because this type of bee does not have a stinger, and it couldn’t sting me! These bees also have less aggressive personalities than others, so they are less likely to attack you for coming near their home. I was able to get up close of the beehive and watch the bees fly in and out of their home. I still felt a little hesitant to be so close to so many bees, but the beekeeper promised he knew what he was doing.

Where does it live?

A bee’s hive – At the apiary

There are many different species of this Brazilian stingless bee that live all over Brazil. There are groups of these bees that live in the wild, as well as captive ones raised by beekeepers.

Since the bees that we visited are cultivated by beekeepers, their hives are made by humans. The hive looks like a small box with a roof on top of a stick. Inside the wooden box, there are different levels, one where the honeycomb is, and others that catch the honey as it moves to the bottom. There is one small hole on one side where the bees move in and out of their house.

How does it use its environment to survive?

Bees use plants around them to survive. At the same time, they help the plants grow to be healthy and strong. Bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers and take it back to their hive to produce their honey and feed themselves. At the same time, the bees help these plants by pollinating them.  Flowers need to be pollinated to produce fruits and vegetables, and therefore bees help to produce the food we eat. Bees also help new plants and flowers grow by spreading seeds and pollen to other places. Bees are very important for keeping our environment working!

What can harm this creature? Are we worried about it?

The number of bees around the world has been getting smaller over the past few years because of pesticides that humans spray to kill other types of insects. Bees can also be in trouble if they do not have a place to live, or their habitat is endangered.When humans cut down trees and even entire forests, they take away places for animals and insects to live.

One more problem facing the bees we saw in Brazil is their popularity among beekeepers. They are easy to take care of because they are more peaceful than other bees, and the honey they produce is very delicious and expensive. There are laws in Brazil to prevent beekeepers from taking these bees from the wild.  With these laws, the wild bees are being protected.

 

Bees come in and out of this entrance

 

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