Bee- Image: Forbes
Imagine if all the honey bees in the world disappeared today. We would lose more than just honey. The benefits of honey bees goes beyond providing beeswax and honey.
There are over 20,000 species of bees in the world but it is only the honeybee that makes honey. They are also known for constructing nests for wax, the large size of their colony (each colony has about 60,000 honeybees), and their production and storage of honey.
The honey bee colony consists of the drones, the worker bee, and the queen bee. The worker bees are the largest population in the colony and are responsible for feeding larvae, foraging for pollen and nectar, tending to the queen and the drones and defending the nest for the survival of the colony. Their average lifespan is six weeks.
The queen bee is the only bee that can lay eggs. They lay up to 2,000 eggs a day and can live for up to five years. The queen bee can mate early in life and store millions of sperm within their bodies. The only job of the drone bees is to fertilize the queen bee and they die immediately after mating. Some other facts about honey bees are:
- Honey bees gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
- The average honey bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
- If the queen bee dies, the hive can produce an “emergency queen” by selecting a young larva from the previous queen and feeding it a special food called “royal jelly” so it can develop into a fertile queen.
- The buzz sound from honeybees is made by their wings, which can beat 11,400 times per minute.
- The honeybee is the only insect that produces food we can eat.
Benefits of Honeybees
One of the main benefits of honeybees are their functions as insect pollinators. While flowers provide bees with nectar and pollen to feed the colonies, bees help spread pollen between flowers in a process known as pollination. Without pollination, plants would be unable to create seeds and this could affect feeding for humans.
Worker bees, whose jobs are to feed the colony, collect nectar. Nectar is the sweet liquid substance that flowers produce to attract bees or other animals.The honeybees’ fuzzy bodies are used to collect pollen.
Pollen is a powder which contains the male genetic material of flowering plants. This pollen rubs off on flowers which they collect nectar from. This pollen transfer makes it possible to fertilize ovaries and enable reproduction. Plants are then able to produce fruits and seeds.
Although some plants are self pollinating or depend on the wind for pollination, most depend on pollinators such as honey bees. Therefore taking away bees would mean a huge decline in the availability of food and fruits.
- Production of Honey
Production of honey is one of the popular benefits of honeybees. Worker bees collect nectar from flowers by using their proboscis to suck it out and storing it in their stomachs to take to the beehive. While in the bee’s stomach, the nectar mixes with an enzyme produced by the bees, thus converting the nectar to honey.
The bees further drop the honey into the beeswax comb, which are produced by the bees, and repeat this process till the combs are full. For long term storage, the bees fan their wings to thicken the honey and when this is done, they cap the honeycomb with wax and move on to the next comb to start over.
You can use honey in just about any cooking method from grilling to baking. It is also a good substitute for sugar as it is more natural. Some of its non-edible uses include skin treatments and as an antioxidant.
- Byproducts of Bees
Honey is not the only good thing that comes out of bees. They also produce a natural wax known as beeswax. This happens when the glands of the worker bees convert the sugar content in honey into wax.
The beeswax comes out from the bee’s small pores to produce tiny flakes of wax on their abdomen. The worker bees chew these pieces of wax until they become soft and moldable and then add them to the honeycomb construction.
People use beeswax to make candles, wax wood furniture, polishing, and for waterproofing leather. They also use it in skin care products. Other byproducts of bees include royal jelly, mead, and bee bread.
Did we leave anything out? Let us know what else you benefit from honeybees.
3 Fun Facts About Vegetables
Vegetables have become such a huge part of our daily meals that we cannot? our meals without them. Here are three fun facts about vegetables that you probably didn’t know about:
1. Tomato Is Botanically A Fruit But Legally A Vegetable:
By definition, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant while vegetables are other plant parts such as roots, leaves, and stems. Based on this, a lot of what we consider vegetables (such as cucumber, avocado, eggplant, okra, and even pepper) are actually fruits. However, even though tomatoes fit into the definition of a fruit, legally, tomatoes are vegetables.
In the late 1800s, the Congress passed a tariff act that imposed a 10% tax on whole vegetables. Vegetable merchants used to bring in tomatoes and not pay the tariff, on the basis that tomatoes were fruits. They took the case to court and in the end, the Supreme Court ruled tomato as a vegetable in 1893. They made this decision based on the culinary application of the food.
Many people backed this argument because despite being a fruit, we eat tomatoes like vegetables.
2. Eating Too Many Carrots Can Turn Your Skin Orange:
This seems like something you would tell a kid who was eating too many carrots so they’d stop but it is actually a fact. Eating too many carrots can turn your skin orange and here’s why.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a natural pigment which is responsible for the vegetable’s orange color. When you eat too many carrots (or pumpkins or any other food high in carotene), the excess beta-carotene will enter your bloodstream and be stored under your skin. This will cause your skin to have a yellow or orange sort of tint. Medically, this condition is known as carotenemia.
Now for the question of how many carrots is too many? Well, that differs based on individuals but the average healthy dosage of beta-carotene is 6 – 8 milligrams. Therefore continuously going above that limit for a long period can be too many carrots.
3. Tomatoes Win The Popularity Contest:
If I asked you to name the most popular vegetable, you’d probably think of onions or other vegetables you use in your everyday meal. However, tomatoes actually take the prize.
Be it a fruit or a vegetable, tomatoes are actually the most consumed food in the world. About 177 million metric tons of tomatoes are produced yearly in the world. The three largest producers of the food are China, India, and the United States.
Tomatoes are so popular that there is an entire festival around them called “La Tomatina.” The festival is held every last Wednesday of August in a town called Buñol ( in Valencia). It involves the participants throwing tomatoes at each other and getting into tomato fights, all for entertainment purposes.
Do you know any more fun facts about vegetables? Share it with us in the comment section.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Forests
Forests do not only provide a habitat for wild animals or exist to scare us in horror movies, they do more for us than we realize. One of the most widely accepted definitions of a forest is by the FAO. The organization explains forests as land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10%.
Forests cover about 31% of the world’s land surface (which is just over 4 billion hectares where one hectare equals 2.47 acres). A better way to visualize this is by telling you that one hectare is about the size of an European football field. Therefore, 4 billion hectares is a lot of football fields.
Now that we know just how much of the earth is covered by forests, here are some more facts about them you probably didn’t know:
1. Forests Are Big Employers Of Labor: The United Nations estimates that about 10 million people are directly employed in forest management and conservation. The World Bank also states that the formal timber sector employs more than 13 million people.
These records cover only the formal sector. What about the undocumented forest workers? Forest business is largely informal and therefore many contributions and workers are largely unreported and the figures could amount to a lot more than we imagine.
Forests creates jobs which ranges from wood production to transportation, charcoal production and so much more.
2. They Serve As Habitat To Many: Forests serve as habitat to many animals such as deer, tigers, bears, and other wildlife. They also house plants and trees like oak, magnolia, moss, and many others. However, you would be surprised to find out that many people live in forests, 300 million people to be exact.
Therefore, forest destruction not only ruins habitats for plants and animals, but also renders some humans homeless and takes away their source of survival.
3. Forests Affect Our Everyday Lives: Almost everything you’ve done today can be traced back to forests. If you’ve eaten today or taken the bus, or even written something down on a piece of paper, then forests have paid an important role in your activities.
The manufacturing of products such as paper, fruits, wood, and even ingredients for detergents, medicine, and cosmetics, can be trailed back to the forest.
The importance of forests, especially in our daily lives, cannot be overemphasized.
4. They Give Us Oxygen: Did you know that one tree provides about 260 pounds of oxygen yearly? That means two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four. How much more a forest?
Forests make oxygen by absorbing carbon dioxide and converting it to oxygen. Without this process, we would not survive. Forests also clean up the air by absorbing harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide to release oxygen.
Apart from making the air clean for us, they also cool the air. The evaporation from a single tree can create the cooling effect of 10 room size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. If one tree can do that, what can a whole forest do?
5. Forests Attract Tourism: Nature is beautiful, and a lot of people are willing to pay good money to experience nature. Forests can be a good way to drive agritourism and enhance the economy. When tourists pay to see forests and their reserves, this contributes to the economy of the community where the forest is found.
Also, the visual aesthetics and cooling effects they have can boost creativity and serve as a source of inspiration.
Are we missing an important point in this post? Let us know in the comment section below.
AfDB, African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership sign $5.4 million agreements to foster fertilizer market in Nigeria and Tanzania
The African Development Bank and the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) have signed two grant agreements to implement trade credit guarantees worth $5.4 million to support fertilizer value chains in Nigeria and Tanzania, potentially benefiting hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers.
The organizations held a signing ceremony at the African Green Revolution Forum in Accra, Ghana on 5 September 2019. Dr. Jennifer Blanke, African Development Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development said the agreements would provide the inputs needed for Africa to have “the productivity that we hope for.”
“We are just thrilled to be getting together with our partners in order to expand the efforts to make sure that we are financing the development of manufacturing and blending of fertilizer,” Blanke said. “This is an African effort, led by Africans, for Africa,” she added.
The grants are designed by the Bank’s Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism (AFFM) to provide sustainable financing solutions to boost the fertilizer value chain in Africa.
African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership CEO Jason Scarpone signed the agreements on behalf of the continental body, emphasizing the importance of value chain financing – bringing fertilizer financing from manufacturer, to distributor, to retailer to farmer. “Few succeed in doing it. This project will be successful,” Scarpone told reporters.
The two deals are the first agreements signed by AFFM, which is hosted by the African Development Bank, since it was became fully functional last year;they pave the way for the first implementation of trade credit guarantee projects for fertilizer financing led by AFFM in Nigeria and Tanzania.
The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership will be the implementing partner operating in the two countries on behalf of the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism. The Partnership has substantial experience in supporting the agricultural value chain across the continent.
Scheduled for implementation over a two-year period, the projects will lead to the enhancement of fertilizer value chains in the two countries and will target 10 importers, 5 blenders/manufacturers, and 37 hub agro-dealers as direct beneficiaries, 520 retail agro-dealers as indirect beneficiaries and 700,000 smallholder farmers as final beneficiaries.
By supporting the fertilizer value chain in the two countries, the projects will go a long way to making fertilizer available to more farmers, a key objective of the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy.
“We have expected results that are realistic. We are here to make sure this happens,” AFFM Coordinator Marie Claire Kalihangabo said at the signing ceremony.