help Illinois' top pumpkin crop
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[October 24, 2008]
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois is the country's
leading pumpkin producer, but most people are unaware of the role
honeybees play in that process. Honeybees are critical to the
pollination of Illinois' pumpkin crop, as well as many other foods
on your table, such as almonds, apples, blueberries, cucumbers and
melons. In fact, honeybees pollinate about one-third of all food
consumed by Americans.
Unfortunately, due to disease and pests, the number of wild
honeybees has significantly decreased over the past few years,
greatly increasing the need for domestic apiaries -- bees kept by
The threat of colony collapse disorder, or CCD, which has not
been found in Illinois, has the potential to adversely affect
the Illinois honeybee industry. That's why the Illinois
Department of Agriculture is doing all it can to keep local
honeybees healthy and productive.
Apiary inspections, offered through the Department of
Agriculture, are designed to assist beekeepers throughout the
state with the management and protection of honeybee colonies.
The inspection program helps the state's 1,329 registered
beekeepers by periodically checking their colonies for disease
"Even though CCD has not yet been found in Illinois, our
inspectors take that threat very seriously. You can't be too
careful," says Steve Chard, apiary inspection supervisor for the
Department of Agriculture. "Honeybees are big business in
Illinois. Without them, many of our specialty crops would be in
a world of trouble."
Many Illinois pumpkin growers hire beekeepers to bring bee
colonies to their field to pollinate crops. Without these
domestic apiaries, Illinois' status as the top pumpkin producer
could be in jeopardy.
"There just aren't enough wild honeybees left to do all the
pollinating that needs to be done," says Chard. "We are
fortunate, though, to have such a dedicated group of beekeepers
and inspectors to protect Illinois honeybees."
The department's apiary inspectors inspected almost 2,000
honeybee colonies last year as a service to Illinois' apiary
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A honeybee must
visit about 2 million flowers to make a pound of honey.
Bees are required
to make a total flight path equivalent to three orbits around
the earth to make 1 pound of honey.
The average worker
bee lives for only six weeks during the summer and makes
one-half teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
During the summer,
one normal colony of bees contains one queen, 300 drones (male
bees) and 50,000 workers (female bees).
Bees use honey for
flight fuel. They obtain approximately 7 million miles per
gallon of honey.
A bee flies at 15
Bees have five
eyes and four wings.
There are about
1,320 beekeepers in Illinois, keeping nearly 20,000 colonies of
There are over 2.9
million honeybee colonies in the United States.
The value of honeybee pollination to
U.S. agriculture is approximately $14.6 billion.
Illinois Department of
Agriculture file received from
the Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]