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What Is the State Insect of South Dakota? How Was It Decided?

Honey bee macro shot

Though the state insect isn’t as popular as the state flower, if you live in South Dakota, there is a good chance that you know what the state insect is due to the large industry that it creates: the honey bee! Keep reading to learn why the honey bee is the insect of South Dakota and when it was chosen.

garden flower divider

When Did the Honey Bee Become the State Insect of South Dakota?

The honey bee became the state insect of South Dakota on February 23, 1978, as part of South Dakota Codified Laws Title 1, Chapter 1-6, Section 1-6-14.

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

Why Did South Dakota Choose the Honey Bee as Its State Insect?

South Dakota is a leader in honey production in the United States, which greatly boosts its economy, so it makes perfect sense that the state would honor this important species by naming it the official state insect. These bees produce a mild, clear clover honey that is usually shipped out of state to mix with darker honey for a more typical appearance.

Is South Dakota the Only State With the Honey Bee as Its State Insect?

No, several other states consider the honey bee special enough to be the state insect. These are Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

What Are the Characteristics of the Honey Bee?

The honey bee is a strong pollinator and the only insect that can be moved to help pollination in other areas. Without bees, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to pollinate most fruit trees, including apples, peaches, and many kinds of grass, including clover and alfalfa. Honey bees live in large colonies with as many as 80,000 members and communicate using intricate dance movements.

The honey that the bees produce will vary in color and flavor depending on the pollen in the area. Besides honey, honey bees will also create beeswax, to build the walls and caps of the honeycomb, and bee bread, a combination of pollen, honey, and glandular secretions that ferment in the comb. The fermentation releases nutrients that help prevent spoilage.

european honey bee on a flower
Image By: Erik Karits, Pixabay

Interesting Facts About the Honey Bee

  • The honey bee hive will have one queen bee that can live up to 8 years.
  • The queen can lay more than 1,500 eggs per day.
  • House beers are young worker bees that construct and maintain the hive and comb.
  • Field bees are older workers beers that gather nectar, plant resin, and water to help with hive construction.
  • Worker bees have an extra stomach and small sacks on their hind legs that help them carry pollen and other important materials to the hive.
western honeybee sitting on a flower
Image Credit: Daniel Prudek, Shutterstock

What Are Other State Symbols of South Dakota?

  • The coyote became the state animal of South Dakota in 1949.
  • The state bird of South Dakota is the ring-necked pheasant.
  • Milk is the state beverage of South Dakota due to the strong milk industry in the state.
  • The fiddle became the state instrument in 1989.
  • The South Dakota state tree is the Black Hills spruce, which many also call white spruce.

garden flower divider Summary

The state insect of South Dakota is the honey bee, an important insect for the economy because South Dakota is one of the leading producers of honey in the country. Honey bees are also responsible for pollinating many fruit trees and grasses. Designating them as the state insect helps honor all their hard work and may even increase awareness about their declining population.

Featured Image Credit: Kai Wenzel, Unsplash


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