If you follow us on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll see many posts highlighting the fascinating aspects of our favorite pollinator, the honey bee. We want to take a closer look at this amazing little creature and provide some perhaps not-so-common facts that we hope will interest and astound you. After all, without the honey bee, our food sources would suffer tremendously, and some would disappear completely.
Now, in no particular order, let’s get buzzing about these bees!
10. Beeswax Is Created from a Special Gland on the Honey Bee.
There are eight glands on the abdomen of the youngest worker bees which produce tiny wax droplets. As soon as the wax is exposed to oxygen, the droplets harden. The worker bees use their mouths to soften the wax and make it pliable. Then the older workers construct the honeycomb. Want to learn a bit more about how honey bees make beeswax? Click here and read this detailed article! (https://www.thoughtco.com/how-honey-bees-make-beeswax-1968102)
9. The Hive is Kept at a Constant Temperature of 93° Fahrenheit.
During the hot summer months, bees will fan their wings to keep the air circulating. The hum from all these beating wings can be heard from many feet away. In the colder months, the bees will gather closely together and circle the queen to keep her warm. The bees can maintain this temperature even during drastic weather changes.
8. Honey Bees Top Speed Can Reach 15 to 20 MPH!
Honey bees are not built for long distance travel, but more for short bursts of speed as they travel flower to flower. Once they are loaded up with pollen, they travel closer to 12 MPH. And, to get home with the extra weight, they flap their wings 12-15,000 times per minute! This photo shows the baggage a little bee must carry on the flight back from the flower garden.
7. One Queen Bee Can Lay up to 2,000 Eggs in One Day.
Queens have one job and that job is reproduction. A mere 48 hours after mating, she will begin to produce eggs, and won’t stop until she has produced her own body weight in eggs each day. The average is about 1,500 eggs per day, This leaves little time for eating or grooming, so she has her attendant worker bees take care of the household chores for her. Watch this closeup and personal video of a Queen mating in air! (https://youtu.be/i7hGIP-RE8k)
6. If the Queen Dies, a Replacement Queen is Created.
It is rare, but sometimes the queen bee dies. If she has laid eggs within 5 days of dying, there is a good chance that the hive can create a replacement queen, by swapping her diet of honey and bee bread for royal jelly. This “emergency” queen won’t be as successful as one fed royal jelly from birth, but she will ensure the longevity of the hive, and can pick up where the previous queen left off. (Like bossing around the workers, and then mating and killing off drones.)
5. Honey Bees are Amazing Mathematicians.
Why are honey bees a fan of the hexagon? It’s one of the most efficient design shapes for economizing labor and beeswax. Bees can actually calculate angles and understand the curve of the earth. Woah, right? To learn more about the honey bee and the hexagon, watch this Ted Talk Video. (https://ed.ted.com/lessons/why-do-honeybees-love-hexagons-zack-patterson-and-andy-peterson)
4. No Couch Potatoes Allowed. Bees are Hard Workers.
Each bee has its own specific job. Whether it’s attending to the nursery, gathering pollen and nectar, removing waste from the hive, or the deadly task of mating with the queen, these bees get the job done in a precise and orderly fashion. A single colony of bees can pollinate over 300 million flowers … a day! (No Netflix and Chill for these little bees.)
3. What a Honey Bee Gathers Determines What it Will Become in the Hive.
Bees will forage for a few things: Nectar, pollen, water and propolis (a resin-like substance collected from tree buds.). The nectar and pollen become honey and bee bread, to feed the hive (and if we’re lucky…us!). Water is used to cool the hive, The propolis is mainly structural and used to fill in crevices in the hive structure.
2. Honey Bees Have an Amazing Sense of Smell.
They can smell the difference between Lilac and Lavender. (Well, so can we.) Bees have over 170 “odorant receptors”, which also help them to communicate with the hive.
1. Honey Bees Do Sleep.
They are one of the hardest working species, and therefore deserve to catch some ZZZZ’s. But, honey bees don’t sleep the way that humans and animals sleep. They do remain very still and may even “power nap” to refresh, or conserve energy. Bees also use this down time to rehash the days memories, stabilizing them so they can be accessed the next day and even in the future.
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