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What Is the State Insect of Kentucky? Facts & History

worker honeybees on a honeycomb

Kentucky is a state known for many unique and interesting things, such as bourbon, bluegrass, and horses. But what is its state insect? It is no surprise that the state insect has fallen by the wayside amidst a plethora of better-known state symbols.

The state insect of Kentucky is the honeybee. Kentucky has a lot of company as a state that recognizes the honeybee as a vital part of the agricultural process. The honeybee is the official state insect of 17 total states. In Kentucky, the honeybee is a relative newcomer to the scene as an official state symbol, being selected as the state’s official insect in 2010.

garden flower divider

How Was It Decided?

Honeybee on yellow flower collects nectar
Image By: Yod 67, Shutterstock

The honeybee was chosen as the official insect of the state of Kentucky in 2010 via House Bill 175¹. The bill was originally drawn up to help facilitate the health and prevalence of pollinator colonies on Kentucky’s reclaimed land. The original language did not include anything about a new state symbol. When it became obvious that the bill was extremely popular, the amendment to make the honeybee the official state insect was added before the final vote.

The bill passed unanimously and was signed into law by the governor. The official designation for the honeybee is the state’s agricultural insect. Kentucky has a strong agricultural sector, and honeybees are critical to the overall health of human agricultural activities.

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Honeybee Quick Facts

  • The scientific name for the standard honeybee is Apis mellifera.
  • Honeybees live in colonies of 80,000 or more individual insects.
  • Each colony typically only has one queen.
  • A queen bee can lay up to 1,500 eggs per day.
  • Most bees found in the wild are sterile females that are designated as worker bees.
  • The honeybee is the state insect in seventeen total states.
  • Honeybees have been around for at least 40 million years and have been evolutionarily the same for 30 million years.
big male drone honeybee
Image By: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova, Shutterstock

The Other State Insect

The honeybee is not the only insect to hold a place as a Kentucky state symbol. Kentucky also has an official state butterfly. The official state butterfly of Kentucky is the Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus). The state butterfly was adopted by the state legislature in 1990. Before the arrival of the honeybee, the Viceroy butterfly was a de facto stand in for a state insect. Now, the honeybee is technically the official state insect, and the Viceroy butterfly remains the official state butterfly.

garden flower divider Conclusion

Thanks to their agricultural importance, the honeybee was selected as Kentucky’s official state insect in 2010. The designation was added to a bill that was working to help facilitate pollinator colonies on reclaimed land. The bee population is very important to Kentucky’s famous agricultural sector and is a great choice for the official state insect.

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Featured Image Credit: John Touscany, Shutterstock


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