Category: Society

The Bee’s Knees: Thirty Fascinating Facts About Bees

‘Bee Amazed’ by the Following Facts About Bees

  1. Bees have been producing honey from flowering plants for between 10 to 20 million years.
  2. The average honey bee only makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey during its lifetime.
  3. Bees are actually a highly specialized form of wasp.
  4. Bees have four wings (while flies have two).
  5. Most bees are fuzzy and carry an electrostatic charge, which aids in the adherence of pollen.
  6. The smallest bee is Trigona minima, which is about 5/64″ long (2.1 mm) and does not sting. The largest bee in the world is Megachile pluto, a leafcutter bee. Females of the species can grow to a length of 1.5” (39 mm).
  7. The average bee colony has approximately 60,000 bees.
  8. Visiting flowers can be dangerous for bees, since assassin bugs and crab spiders hide in flowers waiting to attack and capture the bees. Other bees get killed in flight by birds.
  9. It only takes about two tablespoons of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.
  10. Ancient Romans had a tax season quite different to ours: They paid in honey instead of gold.
  11. Political theorists from Artistotle in ancient Greece to Bernard Mandeville in the 18th century to Karl Marx in the 19th century have used the bees’ society as a model for our own human networks.
  12. Bees go through four stages of development: First, they are cleaners. Next, they develop glands that produce royal jelly that they feed to the young larvae. Then those glands atrophy, and other glands develop and they produce thin scales of wax. These scales are released from under their abdomen, and they are used to build the cells of the hive. These glands also atrophy, and the bee becomes a general jack of all trades and guard of the hive. The final stage in their development is when they go to forage.
  13. Bees communicate by movement and by smell. They release pheromones and perform dances to spread information on which the colony votes.
  14. These insects vote on such matters as when to swarm, or which food source is best to concentrate on, and they vote by moving nearer the proposer they support.
  15. There is no vertical authority structure in bee colonies, and decisions are taken continuously and by democratic vote.
  16. The bees’ simple circular dance indicates a food source close by. A figure of eight describes food further away.
  17. Wiggling movements that bees make have meaning with the angle and intensity of the wiggling movements they make during the dance, indicating the direction and distance of the food or new home.
  18. Honey is the only substance that has all the nutrients necessary to sustain life, including water.

More Facts, Focusing on Honey Bees In Particular

  1. Honey bees have five eyes.
  2. They fly at about 12 miles per hour.
  3. A hive of bees must fly 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey. That’s equal to more than twice around the world.
  4. They make their characteristic buzz from all the racket that their wings make as they stroke at 11,400 times per minute!
  5. Their hives are at their peak in summer when the queen bee will lay about 1,000 to 1,500 eggs per day.
  6. Younger honey bees learn from older and more experienced relatives how to make honey.
  7. On one collection trip, a honey bee will visit between 50 to 100 flowers.
  8. Two million flowers must be visited to create one pound of honey.
  9. One bee colony can make from 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year.
  10. Honey bees did not exist in North America until the colonists introduced them there. This is why the North American natives called honey bees ‘the white man’s fly’.
  11. In Central America, however, people have kept bees for centuries.
  12. Honey bees are scrupulous about keeping their hives as clean as possible.