ORLAND, California — Every year on August 17 the world celebrates World Honey Bee Day. It's a day recognizing honey bees and bee keepers.
The holiday is a big deal in the farming town of Orland, Calif. The rural area in Glenn County is the Queen Bee Capital of North America. Terrie Barr operates the Honey Bee Discovery Center, a recently opened museum dedicated to beekeeping.
Glenn County sells around 200,000 queen honey bees ever year, which is a pretty big deal if you like to eat food.
"Every third bite of food you eat requires pollination of some kind," Barr said.
Bees play a big part in pollinating the world's fruits and vegetables.
Olivarez Honey Bees, Inc. is one of Orland’s biggest producers of queen bees. Jose Gomez is one of the company's bee keepers. It's his job to make sure North America has a steady supply of queen bees.
To make a queen bee, Gomez puts in individual larva in a hive that has no queen. The worker bees will then start feeding the larva something called royal jelly.
"Royal jelly is the nutrition that the bees give to make the queen," Gomez said.
It takes about 11 days for the larva to turn into a queen bee and once the queen is mature and laying eggs she is ready to package. Queen bees are shipped all over America. Just in case the queen gets hungry, the little bee house she's shipped in gets packed with a supply of bee food.
A healthy queen bee can live up to five years. Her babies, on the other hand, will grow up and die after a few months. That’s why it’s important to have plenty of queens around.
"To sustain our agriculture we need to have hives replaced, and to do that we need queen bees," Carr said.
Continue the conversation with John on Facebook.