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State Insects,
Butterflies, and Bugs
State Insects, Butterflies, and Bugs

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Nebraska State Insect


Nebraska State Insect - Honeybee

(Apis mellifera)

Adopted in 1975.

First suggested by Auburn schoolchildren, the honeybee, (Apis mellifica,) was recognized as the Nebraska state insect in 1975. In 1975, the honeybee was adopted by the legislature as the official state insect. A foreign import to the Western Hemisphere, the honeybee was introduced into New England in the early 17th century. There are more than 150,000 colonies of honeybees in Nebraska, representing a $6 million industry in honey and more than a $1 million-dollar industry in beeswax. the honeybee is the only protected and domesticated insect used for pollination today and is vitally important in food production.

Did you know that: The honey bee has been proclaimed the official state insect in each of the following states:
Arkansas   |   Georgia   |   Kansas   |   Kentucky  |  Louisiana
   Maine  |  Mississippi   |   Missouri   |  Nebraska  |  New Jersey
 North Carolina  |  Oklahoma  |  South Dakota  |  Tennessee
 Utah  |  Vermont  |  West Virginia  |  Wisconsin

Nebraska State Insect: Honeybee

Nebraska State Insect - Honeybee

Honey production is a $3.1 million industry in Nebraska. In 1997, according to the Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Service, there were about 61,000 colonies of honeybees in the state producing more than 4 million pounds of honey.

The honeybee plays a vital economic role in Nebraska through its pollination of various crops, trees, and grasses. The honeybee is the only insect that can be moved for the express purpose of pollination.

Bees produce honey as food stores for the hive during the long months of winter when flowers aren't blooming and therefore little or no nectar is available to them. European honey bees, genus Apis Mellifera, produce such an abundance of honey, far more than the hive can eat, that humans can harvest the excess. For this reason, European honey bees can be found in beekeeper's hives around the world!

The taste, color and nutrient content of honey varies from place to place depending upon the kind of flora growing in the area. For example, Tupelo honey (from Tennessee) is twice as sweet as most honey. Many people take honey from their own neighborhood as a kind of natural antihistamine.

Honeybees probably originated in Tropical Africa and spread from South Africa to Northern Europe and East into India and China. They were brought to the Americas with the first colonists and are now distributed world-wide. The first bees appear in the fossil record in deposits dating about 40 million years ago in the Eocene. At about 30 million years before present they appear to have developed social behavior and structurally are virtually identical with modern bees.

Characteristics of the Nebraska Honeybee


Honey bees are social insects, with a marked division of labor between the various types of bees in the colony. A colony of honey bees includes a queen, drones and workers. A typical small hive contains perhaps 20,000 bees and these are divided into three types: Queen, Drone, and Worker. The bee has eyes for seeing flowers, antennae for detecting fragrances, wing muscles for flight, legs for walking and pollen gathering, a crop for transporting nectar, and a stinger for defense of the hive.

The Queen:

The queen is the only sexually developed female in the hive. She is the largest bee in the colony.

A two-day-old larva is selected by the workers to be reared as the queen. She will emerge from her cell 11 days later to mate in flight with approximately 18 drone (male) bees. During this mating, she receives several million sperm cells, which last her entire life span of nearly two years.

The queen starts to lay eggs about 10 days after mating. A productive queen can lay 3,000 eggs in a single day.

The Drones:

Drones are stout male bees that have no stingers. Drones do not collect food or pollen from flowers. Their sole purpose is to mate with the queen. If the colony is short on food, drones are often kicked out of the hive.

The Workers:

Workers, the smallest bees in the colony, are sexually undeveloped females. A colony can have 50,000 to 60,000 workers.

The life span of a worker bee varies according to the time of year. Her life expectancy is approximately 28 to 35 days. Workers that are reared in September and October, however, can live through the winter.

Workers feed the queen and larvae, guard the hive entrance and help to keep the hive cool by fanning their wings. Worker bees also collect nectar to make honey. In addition, honey bees produce wax comb. The comb is composed of hexagonal cells which have walls that are only 2/1000 inch thick, but support 25 times their own weight.

Honey bees' wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.

Nebraska Resolution

Adopted in 1975, the resolution making the honey the state insect read:

WHEREAS, one of the great industries in Nebraska is the production of honey; and whereas, this industry came to Nebraska in the covered wagon era and has grown and thrived amidst our rich and fertile soil; and whereas, the honeybee itself has always been recognized as a species to be protected in and by this state and its contribution to this state is without measure. Be it resolved by the members of the Eighty-third Legislature, Second Session:

1. That this Legislature recognize the honeybee as a prime asset of the state.

2. That this Legislature hereby recognize the honeybee as the Nebraska State Insect.

Nebraska Law

The law designating the honeybee as the official Nebraska state insect is found in the Nebraska Statutes, Chapter 90  (Special Acts) Section 90-114.

CHAPTER 90 - Special Acts.
SECTION 90-114

90-114. State insect; honeybee.

The honeybee (Apis mellifera) is hereby adopted as the official state insect.

Laws 1975, LB 15, §1.

Taxonomic Hierarchy:  Western Honey Bee

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Arthropoda (Arthropods)
    Subphylum: Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class: Insecta (Insects)
Order: Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon: (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
No Taxon: (Anthophila (Apoidea) - Bees)
Family: Apidae (Cuckoo, Carpenter, Digger, Bumble, and Honey Bees)
    Subfamily: Apinae (Honey, Bumble, Long-horned, Orchid, and Digger Bees)
Tribe: Apini (Honey Bees)
Genus; Apis
Species: mellifera (Western Honey Bee)

State Insects,
Butterflies, and Bugs
State Insects,
State insects are selected by 45 states of the 50 United States. Some states have more than one designated insect, or have multiple categories (e.g., state insect and state butterfly, etc.).
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