What's your reaction when you see a bee? Do you run for cover screaming, "a bee! A bee!"

I was afraid of bees until I joined our 4H beekeeping project and learned so many amazing things about honeybees. They are highly intelligent and function in a well-ordered and complex society. Bees use their honey to feed their offspring and to fuel their wing muscles – a honeybee flaps its wings about 230 times a second and would get about seven million miles out of a gallon of honey.

How's that for fuel efficiency? To collect a pound of honey, a bee would have to fly more than 50,000 miles. That's twice around the world! Bees are fascinating, intelligent animals and are critical to our very survival.

We need bees because they are our number-one plant pollinators. Without bees, we would have no fruits, vegetables, flowers and crops like alfalfa hay which feed our farm animals. Without pollination, plants can't reproduce. More than one third of our world's crops depend on bee pollination. So we need the bees. But they are disappearing.

In 1945, we had 4.5 million bee hives. We have a lot fewer bees since then. A report in 2007 showed that we only had 2 million bee hives in the U.S.

Why? After World War II, farmers changed their farming practices. They stopped planting as much clover and alfalfa (which make food for bees) and started using poisons that kill weeds that provide flowers that the bees need for food.

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