Iowa could be joining the swarm of 16 other states that have declared one of nature’s colonizers as an official state symbol.

“Iowa is one of two states without an official state insect,” Senator Chris Cournoyer of Le Claire said today.

She is among the members of a Senate Committee who’ve voted to give that distinction to the honeybee.

“This bill has certainly created a lot of buzz,” Cournoyer said during the committee meeting, drawing laughter and a few groans, “so I appreciate your support.”

Cournoyer pointed to the impact honeybees have on the state.

“Iowa has 45,000 or more honeybee hives that produce about four million pounds of honey, valued at over $8 million (each year),” Cournoyer said, “and honeybees provide an estimated $92 million of economic value to Iowa’s crops from their pollination.”

Senator Roby Smith of Davenport became the author of this honeybee recognition plan after attending two recent events that showcased the state’s bee industry.

“Honeybees are very important to agriculture in Iowa,” Smith said.

Smith’s resolution, which is ready for a vote in the senate now, says honeybees are critical to the survival of plants and humans.

It’s unclear if the proposal will survive through all the steps of the legislative process. Things could get sticky for the bee project in the House. A lawmaker there has proposed naming a black and orange butterfly — called the regal fritillary — as the state insect.

If you’re unfamiliar with Iowa’s official symbols, the state tree is the oak, the state flower is the wild rose, the state rock is the geode and the state bird is the goldfinch.