Interesting Facts About Honey Bees
We already know so many amazing facts about honey bees. Can there be anything left to surprise us? Well, the honey bee is one of the most studied life forms in existence. But some of the honey bee facts that we think we know are wrong. You may learn some new things about bees!
Some researchers have devoted their entire lives to the study of the honey bee. Numerous beekeeping books have been written on all aspects of bee life.
And, this has yielded some truly fascinating facts about the life of bees. But in spite of being the subject of countless years of research, the bees still have secrets.
We are still learning new things about this popular insect. The well known honey bee and the ways they affect our world are still a source of intrigue.
Honey Bee – It’s all in the Name
There are many kinds of bees in the world. The most well know types are Bumble Bees and Honey Bees. However, not every bee makes honey.
But, if your name says honey – you have a lot to live up to. The honey bee’s scientific name “Apis Mellifera” means honey-carrying bee!
Honey bees gather nectar from millions of blooming flowers. This nectar is taken back to the hive. Inside the hive, worker bees convert the nectar into honey which is suitable to be stored for a long time.
Without a store of food to nourish the colony during the cold months, a honey bee colony would not be able to survive from one warm season to the next.
Talk about remarkable, the winter survival strategy of honey bees is amazing. In fact, honey bees have a remarkable Winter survival strategy.
Using stored honey to survive until Spring, a colony that runs out of honey is dead. Other types of bees do not do this.
Of course, plant nectar is not the only thing honey bees collect. Honey bees need a protein source too. Bees collect pollen but they do not use it to make honey.
Even within the hive, you will find some variation. A normal honey bee colony has 3 different kinds of bees inside. Each member of the colony has a role to play.
Honey Bees are True Insects
This may sound like an over simplified statement. Yet, not every living thing that looks like an insect is indeed a member of that scientific family.
In order to be a member of the insect family, they must have certain characteristics. Because honey bees meet the criteria – yes, a honey bee is a true insect.
Bees are only 1 kind of insects. There are many, many more types to get to know. Wasps for instance are also insects. They are often mistaken for bees – but bees and wasps are very different.
Facts About Bee Anatomy
Having special structures on various parts of the bee body helps them complete necessary tasks. Worker bees have pollen baskets, drone bees do not because they do no work.
A study of bee anatomy-parts of a honey bee reveals several other special structures on the different bees in the hive.
Do all Honeybees Have Stingers?
No, among the 3 types of honey bees in the hive. Only the queen bee and worker bees have stingers – drone bees do not.
Though not aggressive, honey bees will sting in defense if they feel threatened.
If you are stung, you can thank a worker bee. These female bees are the guardians of the colony.
Even with the best care and planning, stings do happen. For non-emergency situations, try some easy home remedies for bee stings.
Bee Antennae Function as a Nose
The honey bee uses her pair of antennae like a nose. This is how she detects scents.
An acute sense of smell helps bees locate nectar and pollen rich flowers. They can detect a trace of scent even while in flight.
This sensitivity of bees to odor is something for beekeepers to remember. A beekeeper should avoid strong smells during hive inspections.
If you go into the hive smelling like a sweaty bear… the reception you receive may not be a good one.
Bee Wings Make the Buzz
For many years, researchers could not understand how bees could fly. In recent years using robots, scientists have finally been able to understand the aerodynamics of how bees fly and carry heavy loads.
The rapidly beating wings make the characteristic buzz that we hear when one flies by.
Fun Facts about Life in the Beehive
Bees live in large families that vary in size throughout the season. Their home is called a beehive. But a hive is more than just a physical structure, it involves all aspects of bee life.
It takes a large work force to perform the duties required by a honey bee colony. A honey bee colony may contain 40,000 – 60,000 members during peak season.
Not every colony will grow this large in population. However, it is very possible for a healthy Summer colony to reach a large size.
Working together as one unit the colony must collect food and maintain the hive. Outside the hive, foragers collect nectar, pollen and water.
Bees make use of their sense of smell in order to find food and other things that the colony needs. Nutrition is very important to a growing bee colony. – What do Bees Eat besides honey?
Foraging bees work together to collect food for the colony. In addition to this keen sense of smell, bees also dance to communicate the location of rich food sources.
Like all living things bees need periods of rest. After all, they are very hard workers. In fact, bees sleep inside the hive and sometimes outside too!
We don’t see baby honey bees flying around – do we? This is because honey bees emerge fully grown.
Worker Honey Bee Facts
Worker bees literally work themselves to death during the warm season. This is why it is important to constantly have a new supply of young bees being produced.
Thousands of worker bees are necessary to maintain all colony functions. They are the most important bees in the hive.
In fact, we are so impressed with the work ethic of bees – we have created many bee quotes, proverbs and sayings about them.
It takes thousands of workers to meet the needs of the hive. Other bees such as Bumble Bees have different needs.
How Long Do Bees Live? It depends on the type of bee – worker bees live 6-8 weeks in Summer but they can live longer in Winter!
Drone Bees are the Males Bees
Male bees (drones) develop from unfertilized eggs. Their only function is to mate with virgin queen bees.
Because no semen is used to create drones, they have no father. However, they do receive genetic material from their mother. (who had a mother and father.)
Even though drone bees do not work inside the hive, they are still very important to a healthy hive.
Important Honey Bee Queen Facts
The queen honey bee is the most important single bee in the colony. The Major Role of the Queen Honey Bee is to produce thousands of eggs.
A young healthy queen may lay as many as 1,000 to 2,000 eggs per day during Spring. On an average basis, it is a much lower number.
A queen honey bee may live longer than the other types of bees in the hive. However, if she fails to do her job, the colony will quickly replace her.
The Colony Recognizes a Missing Queen Quickly
The colony shows the importance of a laying queen by the speed at which her absence is recognized.
One of the main methods of communication within the beehive is through pheromones. These chemical messengers passed throughout the hive.
If the queen is missing for more than 15 minutes, the bees know. Once her pheromone levels begin to drop, the colony becomes agitated.
Only Honey Bees Make Honey
On average, foragers visit 2 million individual blooms to collect enough nectar to make 1 pound of honey. A bee visits 50 – 100 flowers during a foraging trip.
You can help local bees and pollinators by making bee friendly choices for your garden. Plant flowers that attract bees. Not all flowers feed bees. Learn which ones provide nectar or pollen.
Honey Bee – Only Insect that Produces Food for Humans
Mankind has been harvesting honey from bee colonies for thousands of years. The honey bee does not make honey for us – but thankfully they make enough to share.
The honey bee is the only insect that produces enough honey to be harvested by us!.
Honey Bees Make Beeswax
Honey bees build sheets of beautiful honeycomb filled with thousands of individual cells. These hexagonal cells provide room to raise young and store food.
Where does this beeswax come from? Worker honey bees produce beeswax from special glands on the underside of their abdomen.
Honey bees are not the only ones who make use of beeswax. We humans find many creative ways to use excess beeswax in and around our homes.
Honey Bees Are Important Pollinators
Honey bees are very important to modern agriculture. They offer valuable pollination services to farmers. The value of honey bee pollination exceeds that of honey production by a large amount.
Learn Even More Fun Bee Facts
It’s easy to learn more about bees and share your love of these winged pollinators. Explore interesting bee crafts that anyone can enjoy. They are an awesome way to decorate your living space.
And if you want even more, here are some secrets about bees that are just for fun – even though they are amazing to consider.
Honey bees and humans have a relationship dating back thousands of years. Let’s hope we are able to continue to learn even more about them.
You can get more involved with the world of the honey bee. Have you considered becoming a beekeeper?