Interesting Facts About the Honey Bee
Bees are one of the most popular types of insects. 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. Get ready to 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. This is because to be a good beekeeper you need to understand bees.
And, this has yielded some truly fascinating facts about the life of bees both inside the hive and outside. But in spite of being the subject of countless years of research, the bees still have secrets.
All About Honey Bees
There are many kinds of bees in the world. The most well known types are Bumble Bees and Honey Bees. Both of these bees make honey- at least a bit!
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! Not every bee can make honey.
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. This is why bees make so much honey. Otherwise, they 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 because they do not over winter in large colonies.
Of course, plant nectar is not the only thing honey bees collect. Honey bees need a protein source too. Bees collect pollen and store it in the hive. Bees do not use pollen to make honey only plant nectar.
Within a beehive, you will find 3 different kinds of bees : worker, drone and queen. Each member of the colony has a role to play in keeping the colony alive.
Honey Bees are True Insects
Yes, honey bees are 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.
Of course there are thousands of different insects in our world. Some very different from bees and others closely related. 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. These special parts of each type of bees make the jobs they need to do possible.
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 (male honey bees) do not.
If you are stung, you can thank a worker bee. These female bees are the guardians of the colony. Though not aggressive, honey bees will sting in defense if they feel threatened.
Even with the best care and planning, stings do happen. For non-emergency situations, try some easy home remedies for bee stings.
Do Honey Bees Have a Nose?
Yes, honey bees do have a structure that functions 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 Bee Facts About Life in the Hive
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.
We don’t see baby honey bees flying around – do we? This is because honey bees emerge fully grown. Yet that developing brood (baby bees) is vital to the future of the colony.
Working together as one unit the colony must collect food and maintain the hive. Outside the hive, foragers collect nectar, pollen and water.
Bees Eat, Dance and Sleep Inside the Hive
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!
Cool Facts About Bees
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 because a large population is necessary.
In fact, we are so impressed with the work ethic of bees – we have created many bee quotes, proverbs and sayings about them. Everyone hopes to be considered “busy as a bee”.
It takes thousands of workers to meet the needs of the hive. This is different from other bees, such as Bumble Bees, who do not live in large groups.
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
A queen bee is capable of laying both fertilized eggs and unfertilized eggs. Male bees (drones) develop from unfertilized eggs.
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.)
Their only function is to mate with virgin queen bees. Even though drone bees do not work inside the hive, they are still very important to a healthy hive.
Facts About Queen Honey Bees
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. Another important function of a queen bee is pheromone production.
Queen pheromones are important chemical messengers in the hive and alert the members that a queen is present.
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.
A 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. If the queen is missing for more than 15 minutes, the bees know. Once her pheromone levels begin to drop, the colony becomes agitated.
Facts About Bees and Honey
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.
On average, foraging workers bees 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.
The honey bee is the only insect that produces enough honey to be harvested by us!.
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 Bees Make Beeswax Too!
The production of honey may get all the attention but bees produce another valuable product – 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.
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.
Bees can travel long distances to gather nectar and pollen. Farmers take this information into account when placing hives into fields for crop pollination.
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.
You can get more involved with the world of the honey bee. Have you considered becoming a beekeeper?