This part of our conversation will only take less than a minute because it deals with a subject that is still quite sore for those of us who pull for the Auburn Tigers. 

It looked for the world like Auburn got robbed of a chance to play in the NCAA Basketball Championship game. How did the official miss a "clear as day," game-changing double dribble directly in front of him? Regardless, he didn't and the rest is history. Auburn's Cinderella ending to its first-ever Final Four game was taken away in the silence of an unblown whistle.

Now, on to the rest of our conversation.

My wife, Paula, has been talking of late about one of the most important insects in the world — the honey bee. The bees are essential in properly pollinating food crops around the world. She became interested in the subject after reading about the connection between honey bees and one of Hollywood's best known actors, Morgan Freeman. So what's the connection?

It seems as through Freeman has turned his 124-acre ranch in Mississippi into a bee sanctuary. He explained how he became a beekeeper during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. During that time, Freeman explained why he made the decision to do his part to preserve and save wild bees. 

The 81-year old actor imported 26 hives from the neighboring state of Arkansas to his family-owned ranch near the city of Charlotte, Mississippi. He told Fallon that he never harvests any of the bees' honey — choosing instead simply to feed the bees sugar and water.

Paula was telling me that honey bees are important when it comes to pollinating domestic and imported fruits and vegetables like soybeans, broccoli, cucumbers, peaches, cherries and melons of all varieties. Folks who grow cotton also need the bees to pollinate their plants.

People who follow this subject are worried about the recent decline in the number of honey bees. The Environmental Protection Agency says over the past five years Colony Collapse Disorder is a primary cause for the decline in the number of bees. They are also concerned about the Trump Administration's rollback of bans of certain pesticides that can kill these all-important pollinators. 

In addition to the huge job these honey bees do in terms of pollinating plants, they also are the source of honey, one of nature's most magnificent foods.

Folks who believe in honey say it has downright miraculous healing properties. They say it can prevent cancer, heart disease, reduce ulcers, ease digestive problems, regulate blood sugar, soothe coughs and sore throats, and increase athletic performance.  

Recently CNN set out to find out how many of these claims have been proved by scientific methodology. Its report said "there's no doubt honey has the power to kill bacteria." The Cable News Network says scientists found honey "did a better job of easing night time coughs and improving sleep than popular cough suppressant dextromethorphan."

The CNN report warned NOT to give honey to "children under the age of 1" because their "digestive systems can't handle any contaminates in honey that cause botulism." Please note.

The report said the "jury's still out on cancer, heart disease and diabetes."

In preparing for today's conversation, I found some intriguing trivia facts about honey bees. You may find them just as interesting.

Honey bees must gather nectar from 2-million flowers to make a pound of honey.

One bee has to fly about 55-thousand miles to make a pound of honey. (Boy, I bet his wings are tired.)

On a typical collection trip a honey bee visits 50 to 200 flowers.

A honey bee can fly for up to six miles at speeds up to 15 miles per hour.

Did you know that bees communicate with one another by dancing. 

A colony of bees has anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 honey bees and one queen. 

The queen lives for as many as five years and is the only bee that lays eggs ... up to 2,500 a day during the warm summer months.

Worker bees are female, live for about six weeks and do all the work.

Larger than the worker bees, the male honey bees (also called drones) have no stinger and do no work. All they do is mate.  (Hey, somebody's got to do it!)

If you'd like to find out more about bee-keeping in our part of the world, contact Auburn University's Bee Lab, housed in the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology. And yes, Auburn's Bee Lab has its own Facebook page where you can learn more about what the school's doing to improve bee health and more.

Until next time.

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