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Honey Bees – Tiny Builders Critical to National Food Security

by Donovan Rittenbach Jr.

Bees love poppies. It’s rare to see so many bees on one flower.

At ACS, we build a better world every day, but so do honeybees. World Bee Day, May 20, celebrates our greatest animal allies.

Here are some fascinating facts you can bring up in any conversation to support awareness:

According to the U.S. Army, bees are our most important strategic livestock. They are so critical to our national food security that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has worked to develop plans enhancing pollinator habitats across more than 12 million acres of land.

These unsung heroes that provide $15 billion worth of pollinating services for the nation. 1 out of 3 bites we eat are from bees, and their the best ones. They’re many of our fruits, vegetables and even nuts. If not for bees, oranges, apples, blueberries, pumpkins, and almonds would be the food of kings.

They can also smell explosives and other compounds nearly as well as dogs, and researchers have begun training bees in bomb detection.

They build their hives with hexagons, which are the most efficient way to fill a space, because they tile a plane with minimal boundaries, and minimize the surface area between cells. That means the bees can maximize space for honey while minimizing work and materials to create the support structure.

Honey has significant antibiotics. It can keep for thousands of years without spoiling and can be applied to wounds to prevent infection.

There is so much to love about bees. These master builders have played a critical part in building human civilization and we hope they continue to play a part for millennia to come.

In conclusion, here are a few images of bees I shot underneath a microscope that will hopefully bring a greater appreciation for these hidden heroes.

Bee eye 40x magnification.

Bee eye. 100x magnification. Composite image of 17 shots. Not the hexagonal structure of the eyes.

Bee tongue with front claws. The rough surface is optimal for collecting nectar.

Bee tongue with sheath covers that help bee maximize nectar intake. 

Bee wing.

Bee wing.

Bee wing 100x magnification.


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