12 Quick Honey Bees Facts
Honey is made by worker bees, all of them females that never bear baby-bees. Only the queen bee lays eggs which are then taken care of by the workers bees. The worker bees are best known for their exemplary work ethics – hence the expression ‘as busy as a bee.’ These tiny workers visit anything between 50 and 100 flowers on each nectar gathering trip and do it all day.
Other interesting facts about honey bees are:
- Bees Language: Honey bees communicate with each other by flight movement in a sort of dance. That is how one bee tells the others to follow her to a newly discovered field of nectar rich flowers. The dance is very precise because a bee’s wings flap at about 200 times a second.
- Bee Smelling Talents: Bees have super smelling abilities. They have 170 odor detecting receptors – 91 more than mosquitoes – some of them tuned to recognize family members and others tuned to differentiate smells of different flowers from meters away.
- Multiple Queen Bees: Bees regularly produce new queens. Each colony, usually of between 20,000 and 60,000 individual, normally have one queen. But while the colony’s resident queen may live for as long as 5 years, the colony produces a new queen every year. They do that by feeding a select female with a special diet from birth. If everything goes to plan, the new queen leaves with part of the swarm at the end of summer or early autumn to start a new colony.
- Not All Bees Make Honey: Only worker bees make honey. The workers are also the vast majority of bees, outnumbering the larger-sized male drones whose job is to stay healthy and wait to mate any new queen. Unfairly, everyone in the colony has a sting except the macho drones.
- Making Honey Is Hard Work: A bee on its own cannot make honey. Honey making requires several bees to, each in turn, chew on the nectar brought in by any one bee, and pass it around until it becomes honey. The job takes about half an hour, after which everyone has to fan the liquid honey so as to evaporate enough of its water to leave it thick and viscous.
- Bees Secrete their Version of Concrete: Bees secrete the wax they use for building honey combs directly from the sides of their bodies. They take a good meal of honey, cluster together to increase their body temperature and slowly release the wax from their bodies.
- Bees Do Not Make A Lot Of Honey: It takes between 8 and 12 bees their entire life – which may vary from a month and a half to 4 months – to make a teaspoonful of honey. Fortunately, honey is such pure food that each bee consumes only a fraction of the honey it makes, leaving the excess for the queen, the drones, the baby bees, and honey thieves such as human beings.
- All Bees Are Not The Same: There are at least 25,000 known varieties of bees, each with distinctive characteristics.
- Bees Hate Using Their Sting: Bees do not use their sting unless threatened. The cautionary use of the sting is partly because it is a kamikaze weapon: once you use your sting, you die. To kill an adult human being, about 1,000 bee stings are necessary.
- Every Bee knows home: Each individual bee colony has a special odor that enables all residents to recognize each other and isolate any strangers – and keep every bee from straying into the wrong hive.
- Bees Conspire against their Queen: Bees do sometimes perform a coup de tat against their queen. If the resident queen, possibly because of age, demonstrates laxity in her job – which is to lay eggs at the breathtaking rate of 2,000+ per day in summer – the colony conspires and replaces her with a brand new queen.
- Bees Are Older than People: As a species, bees are older than human beings. By most accounts, they have been making honey as they do today for 150 million years, essentially since our ancestors were no more than sophisticated apes living in damp caves.
Do you know of an interesting fact about bees that is missing from our list? Do tell so we can add it to the list.