What Is the State Insect of Louisiana? How It Was Decided
If you visit a local farmer’s market in Louisiana, you’ll likely stumble upon a beekeeper hobbyist who’s enthusiastic about their trade. Honey, beeswax candles, soap, and even medicine in the form of bee propolis are just a few products you might find that reflect Louisianan’s love affair with bees. The honeybee is the state insect of Louisiana, and the Bayou State is far from alone in their obsession. Over fifteen other states have also made the honeybee their trademark insect. Here are a few fascinating facts about the western honeybee, including a few reasons why it’s so important to the Bayou State.
All About the Western Honeybee
|Common Name:||Western or European Honeybee|
|Scientific Name:||Apis mellifera|
|Habit:||Every continent except Antarctica|
|Conservation Status:||Secure through beekeepers|
The overall bee population worldwide is declining at an alarming rate. Since bees are responsible for the pollination of much of our produce, our food supply would suffer severe shortages without these buzzing little guys. Honeybees in particular, however, are relatively safe from endangerment because of our human craving for honey. Beekeepers are helping the honeybee population remain stable, but they’ll still need our support to survive in the wild by limiting our use of pesticides and preserving their habitats.
Honeybees live in hives dominated by sterile female workers and male drones. The queen bee is the only female capable of reproducing. She mostly stays within the hive while the other colony members work to bring in the nectar.
How the Honeybee Became Louisiana’s Most Beloved Bug
Unlike the native state dog, the Catahoula, honeybees didn’t originate from Louisiana. Indeed, you can find bees worldwide on every continent except Antarctica. Rather, the honeybee is the state insect of Louisiana due to their economic importance.
According to the USDA, honey brought 7.93 million dollars to Louisiana in 2019. That’s a lot to buzz about! Most beekeepers are considered hobbyists with fewer than 25 hives, but some are commercial beekeepers with hundreds of hives under their care.
The state legislature designated the honeybee as the state insect in 1977. Even though they’ve been the state insect for almost fifty years, many Louisianans aren’t aware of their official status. Unfortunately, if you visit the state, you’ll soon see that bees aren’t the bugs that everyone’s buzzing about. Annoying pests such as mosquitoes are prevalent throughout the state, attracting more attention than the friendly honeybee.
While honeybees sting, they’re not typically aggressive. A honeybee can only sting once, and they die soon after because their bodies are ripped apart as they withdraw their stinger. These insects are very selective about who and when they sting, usually resorting to stinging as a last resort to protect their hive rather than a precautionary or vengeful measure. Thus, most Louisianans welcome the honeybee as the producer of honey rather than consider them a pest.
The honeybee is the state insect in almost one-third of the US, including Louisiana. Beyond honey, locals love other bee products such as lip balm, candles, and soap. Human interest has helped the different species of honeybees survive through beekeeping. However, for the well-being of all species, we’ll have to do more to keep their numbers stable in the wild, such as increasing conservation efforts and limiting the use of pesticides that are harmful to bees and other pollinating insects.
Featured Image Credit: Daniel Prudek, Shutterstock