Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters Most: The Life of a Bee

What Matters Most: The Life of a Bee

Julia Maher

Year 5, St James Catholic Primary School

What matters most? What matters most to the environment? What matters most to humans? What matters most to the planet? Me. I am a bee.

My ancestors were already around when dinosaurs were still roaming the land. I'm one of the honey bees who continues the 120 million year tradition of pollinating flowers. As I wake up from my 5 to 8 hour sleep I catch the scent of a flourishing flower from my cell in the hive. I get excited and zoom off towards the smell. Did you know that a honey bee can fly for up to 9 kilometres and as fast as 24 kilometres per hour? From a great height I can see beautiful flowers with colourful petals and smell their sweet fragrance. I'm captivated by the majestic qualities of these flowers. To get to my precious nectar I must crawl into the flower and during this process my fine hairs collect pollen, while I am rubbing against the stamen and stigma. I poke my thin long tongue into the tasty nectar and start filling my honey stomach. As I collect this delicious nectar in exchange I am transporting pollen from the stamen of one flower and I am depositing it to the stigma of another flower of its species. As I receive the nectar, the flower is successfully being pollinated so it's a win - win situation.

Not only do I pollinate flowers but in this process I help the plant reproduce to create seeds and fruits such as apples, pears, plums and watermelons. Did you know that two thirds of every human mouthful of food is thanks to bees? We also pollinate food we don't eat: carrots, beetroots, leeks, cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli. Yes, we are not big fans of veggies! Farmers need these seeds not to eat but to sow their fields. This in turn provides fruit and vegetables to you. You're welcome! So the next time you are eating a meal try to show a bit more appreciation of our work.

Are you wondering what we bees do with our nectar?  We have to use the nectar to create honey. I fly back to the hive and give some of my nectar to the larvae and seal the chamber they are in. Then I start to make my way to the worker bees' cells. On my way I pass the Queen bee and her circle of assistants. The Queen is being closely followed by the drones. The drones are male bees and they have no stinger.Their main goal in life is not pollinating flowers but mating with the Queen. Only some drones succeed in this. Ugh, boys! I finally arrive at the worker bees. I find a worker bee and pass through droplets of nectar from my honey stomach. She kindly takes my nectar and starts to mix it with her own saliva. When all the water evaporates from the mixture it becomes honey. Honey tastes delicious and is very antibacterial. Honey comes in many different types depending on what type of flower the nectar came from. My least favorite is probably onion honey but I'm not very picky!

It is us bees who have helped to create the environment around you. Most of the plant life, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, you depend on have been created with assistance from us bees. We are a crucial part of the Earth's life cycle, without us food production would severely drop. Being the most important thing in the world? No pressure!