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National & State Symbols
West Virginia State Insect
Adopted in 2002.
The Honeybee, (Apis mellifera,) became West Virginia's official state insect in 2002 by the Legislature's Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 9. In addition to its flavorful honey, the honeybee pollinates many of the state's most important crops including fruits, vegetables and grasses. Its activity produces more benefit to the state's economy than any other insect. The honeybee has six legs, four wings and its coloring ranges from dark yellow to gold with three dark bands on its abdomen.
Honeybees live in hives of up to 80,000 individuals. A hive consists of one queen bee (who can live 8 years and lay over 1,500 eggs per day), a small group of male drones (on hand to fertilize a new queen on her nuptial flight, should one be produced), and the remaining vast majority of sterile female worker bees.
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
West Virginia State Insect: Honeybee
This "social" insect, which grows and lives in highly organized colonies, is important to Vermont farmers and orchardists by being a principal pollinator of certain of their crops. But it is best know, of course, for the pleasant-tasting and healthful honey which it produces. Though they represent a relatively small part of the state's agricultural economy, West Virginia beekeepers generally produce several hundred thousand pounds of honey each year.
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!
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 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.
The queen is the only sexually developed female in the hive. She is the largest bee in the colony.
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.
Workers, the smallest bees in the colony, are sexually undeveloped females. A colony can have 50,000 to 60,000 workers.
Butterflies, and Bugs
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.). More than half of the insects chosen are not native to North America, because of the inclusion of three European species (European honey bee, European mantis, and 7-spotted ladybug).