Fun Bee Facts to Share
Do you know a lot about bees? Humans and honey bees have been interacting for a very long time. Yet, the honey bee still has some mysteries of the hive that we don’t understand. Even after all this time of exploring honey bee facts – some may still surprise you. Let’s see how many of these fascinating bee facts are new to you.
1.Honey bees are social insects that live together in large colonies. The survival of the colony over time depends on the work of many individuals.
2. A honey bee colony is a social organism. Individual bees work and die in a relatively short time. But they are replaced by new bees. The honey bee colony itself can live from year to year.
The honey bee colony has a well-developed system of communication that allows individuals to work together effectively.
4. Worker bees change jobs over the course of their lives. From nurse bees that feed young, to house bees who make honey and foragers who gather food.
5. Bee Colonies can grow very large. A Summer beehive may have 40,000 – 80,000 bees.
6. Bees communicate with chemical messengers called pheromones – external hormones.
7. These pheromones are transferred from bee to bee throughout the colony. This is done by mutual grooming and antenna touching.
8. Each bee colony has a distinctive scent that allows members to recognize each other. Guard bees at the entrance of the hive can recognize intruders and prevent them from entering the hive.
9. Cold blooded insects, the honey bees survive winter by consuming honey and vibrating their wing muscles to product heat.
10. An average colony of honey bees collects 50-60 pounds of pollen each year.
11. Honey Bees beat their wings 200 times per second – this is what creates the buzzing sound we hear.
12. Some bees die everyday in a bee colony. In a colony of 50,000 workers, you can expect that 500 bees die of natural causes each day.
Historical Bee Facts
13. People have been interacting with honey bees for thousands of years. Early cave paintings in Spain depict honey being harvested from a wild hive.
14. Ancient Eqypt was an early center of beekeeping, and some people used honey as a payment for taxes.
15. Honey bees are not native to North America. Bees were brought over from Europe with early settlers. The bees liked life in the New World and spread into the forests.
16. The Native Americans called honey bees the “White Man’s Fly”.
17. The study of beekeeping is called “Apiculture”.
18. A yard of hives is called an apiary -and another word for beekeeper is “apiarist”.
19. Honey bees are sold by the pound. A 3 pound package is the most popular size for starting new colonies.
20. A starter package of bees hold about 10,000 worker bees and a queen – enough bees to being a new hive.
21. Years ago, you could order bees through the Sears and Roebuck Catalog.
What We Know About Honey Bees.
Facts About Worker Bees
22. Worker bees are female and do all work in the colony.
23. At any given time, workers will account for the mass majority of the hive population. It takes a lot of workers to meet the needs of a honey bee colony.
24. Worker bees collect, or forage, for 4 things. They collect nectar, pollen, water and propolis. The needs of the colony on any given day will determine how many bees are working on each resource.
25. Honey bees have an extra stomach, called a “honey stomach”. This is separate from their digestive stomach. Nectar is stored in the honey stomach for the trip back to the hive.
26. When a forager bee returns to the hive with a full honey stomach of nectar she gives it to a house bee. A returning pollen forager places the pollen directly in a honeycomb cell.
27. Bees suck up plant nectar using their proboscis (tongue). This straw-like structure is made of several mouth parts that works together to gather liquid.
28. Gathering nectar is a lot of work and requires many flower visits. On a single foraging trip, a honey bee may visit up to 100 flowers before returning to the hive.
29. Bees can fly up to 15 MPH. On very windy days, bees may not leave the hive to forage.
30. A single bee will make about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
31. Worker bees live about 6 weeks during the summer – but can live up to 6 months over Winter. During Summer, the bees work themselves to death. Over Winter, less physical wear is required, and the Winter bees have larger fat bodies.
32. Worker bees have the job of defending the hive. They are the ones who may sting you.
33. Their barbed stinger becomes embedded in mammal skin. The bee cannot remove the stinger and it rips from their body – eaving the bee to die.
34. Bees can easily travel up to 2 miles foraging for food. They can go even farther if they have to.
35. Honey bees use their antennas to detect odor. They have 170 odor receptors and a very keen sense of smell. This helps the bees to locate nectar and pollen rich flowers.
36. Depending on foraging conditions, about 13-30% of a bee colony’s foragers will be collecting pollen.
37. An average colony can consume 44-65 pounds of pollen each year.
Queen Bee Facts
38. A honey bee colony can make a new queen with a young larva from any fertilized egg.
39. Queen Larva are feed much more than worker larva. The queen larva is feed approximately 1600 times before the cell is capped. Worker larva are only fed 143 times.
40. The queen bee is the only bee who can lay fertilized eggs that develop into workers.
41. Without a mated queen laying eggs, the honey bee colony is doomed and will fail.
42. Queen bees do have a stinger. Queens can sting and more than once.
43. The queen’s stinger is smooth not barbed and is used only on rival queens.
44. After a brief mating period early in life, the queen bee will never mate again.
45. The sperm of the 12-20 drones that she mates with is stored in a special organ in her abdomen.
46. Normally, a honey bee colony can only have 1 queen at a time. A mother/daughter pair may co-exist for a while – but eventually one will be eliminated.
47. When introducing a new queen into a colony, the beekeeper must place her in a special slow release cage. Otherwise, the worker bees will kill the unknown queen.
Drone Bee Facts
48. Drone bees are male.
49. Drones are haploid – they develop from unfertilized eggs and have half the chromosomes of worker bees.
50. Drones have no stinger because they do not need one. Drones do not forage or protect the hive.
51. The only purpose for drones is to mate with virgin queens.
52. Drone bees do not mate queens inside the hive.
53. Bee mating takes place far away from the hive. On warm afternoons, drones leave the hive and fly to special areas searching for queens.
54. Honey bee mating takes place in flight.
55. After mating in mid-air with a queen, the drone falls to the ground and dies.
Basic Bee Facts for Kids
56. Most bees are not honey bees.
57. There are over 20,000 species of bees in the world.
58. Only 7 of these species are honey bees.
59. Honey Bees are insects – they have 3 main body parts: head, thorax and abdomen.
60. Bees have 5 eyes – 2 large eyes for vision and 3 small ocelli for light detection.
61. Honey bees also have small hairs on the surface of their eyes. It is believed that these hairs help detect wind direction.
62. Honey bees can see light, color and motion.
63. Bees develop through metamorphosis. 4 stages : Egg, Larvae, Pupae and Adults.
64. Worker bees dance to tell other foragers where to find food.
65. Bees must visit about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.
Buzzing Bee Facts About Beeswax
66. Beeswax is produced by worker bees. Glands on the underside of their abdomen produce the wax and it is shaped into comb cells by the bees.
67. Bees construct hexagon cells. Hexagon shaped honeycomb cells give the most storage space using the least amount of beeswax – no wasted space.
68. The exact composition of beeswax is not know. Researchers have been unable to duplicate it.
69. Bees must consumer about 8 pounds of honey to produce 1 pound of beeswax.
70.Production of Beeswax – In most colonies beeswax production is about 2% of the total honey production.
71. The color of beeswax varies from white to dark brown. Beeswax absorbs stains in the hive and darkens over time.
72. Beeswax is highly valued for its many uses. Candles, lotions and various cosmetics contain beeswax.
73. Beeswax candles are praised for their clean burn and long burn time.
Hive Products Provided by Bees
74. Honey is made from plant nectar.
75. Nectar is about 80% water and 20% sugar.
76. Bees convert the nectar into honey which is about 80% sugar and 20% water.
77. Honey never spoils and will be safe to eat for a very long time. Protected from moisture, honey remains edible for thousands of years.
78. Fermented honey is used to make Mead – the oldest fermented beverage in the world.
79. There are hundreds of varieties of honey produced by honey bees.
80. The flavor and color of honey is determined by the plant nectar that was collected to make it.
81. Beekeepers harvest several different products from beehives. Honey, Pollen, Propolis and Royal Jelly are common products.
82. Hives are rented for pollination of some crops. Those who make a living from beekeeping may also, sell bees or rent out hives for pollination.
83. Bee pollination is responsible for the production of 1/3 of the foods we currently eat.
Killer Bee Facts – The Truth
The honey bees known as Africanized or (Killer Bees) were developed on purchase. No, they were not intended to be dangerous. Researchers were trying to create a hybrid honey bee that would perform well in the hot climate of South America.
Our European Honey Bees were mated with an African Race of Honey Bee. Unfortunately, the hybrid bees did not have the characteristics desired. And then, some of the bees escaped and started to move north.
84. Africanized Bees are now found in most of the Southern States of the US.
85. They normally produce less honey than European bees – instead focusing on more swarming activity.
86. Killer bees has the same size stinger as any other honey bee.
87. The venom of Africanized Bees is not stronger or more toxic than regular honey bee venom.
88. Africanized Bees are more defensive than normal colonies. They respond and attack in greater numbers.
89. Killer bees are able to chase someone for more than 1/4 of a mile.
90. You can not identify Africanized Bees in the field. They look exactly the same as European Bees to the untrained eye.
91. Once disturbed, an Africanized Hive of Bees can stay on alert for 24 hours or more. The least disturbance can set off a stinging action.
92. If you are threatened by Killer Bees, the best thing to do is run, run and run some more.
93. Unlike European Honey Bees, Africanized Bees are more likely to choose holes in the ground to make their nests.
Bees Swarming – It’s a Natural Fact
94. Swarming is a natural occurrence for healthy honey bee colonies. Usually the old queen and about half the work force will leave to find a new home. The original colony retains queen cells to replace the old queen.
95. Colonies that swarm usually produce less honey. Therefore, beekeepers often try to avoid having their colonies swarm.
96. Before leaving the mother colony, worker bees in the swarm fill their honey stomachs with food for the journey.
97. Finding a few small (acorn sized) queen cups are not necessarily a warning sign of swarming – until an egg is laid in the cup.
98. Most bees swarms leave the mother hive after some of the queen cells are capped over.
99. Swarms are most likely to leave between 10 am and 2 pm on a warm sunny day.
100. If the queen does not leave the hive with the swarm, swarming workers will return to the hive.
101. Collecting swarms is a lot of fun but is discouraged in states where Africanized Honey bees are established.
Telling the Story of the Bees
Those are some truly fascinating bee facts and I am sure some of them were a surprise to you? I have saved my favorite 2 facts for the end.
102. Honey bees are the only insect that produces food for human consumption.
103. Honey bees need our help.
We love honey bees and everything they do for us. However, they are not the only pollinators and some bees do not make honey in measurable amounts.
All pollinators have value to our environment and lifestyles and deserves our appreciation.
What are Your Favorite Facts About Bees?
There you have it. 103 wonderful honey bee facts for you to share and enjoy. Do you have some to add? If so, I would love to hear them!