Bees are easily one of the most recognisable insects on the planet. Honey is also a firm favourite in many homes across Australia. But just how much do you know about these buzzing bugs?
We decided to put together some of the most interesting and lesser-known facts about one of the most important insects around today.
12 Facts about The Amazing Honeybee
1. They Go Over and Above
Honeybees are hard workers. Each hive works together to produce three times more honey than they actually need. It’s for this reason that we’re able to share delicious honey with bees. What’s more, their wax is a byproduct that can be used to produce natural products, including candles and cosmetic and household products. You can read more about the benefits of beeswax and why it’s a superior product here.
2. We Need Bees More Than You Realise
Bees are essential in nature because without them, many of the flowers, fruits and vegetables you enjoy, wouldn’t be able to grow. Bees are one of nature’s best pollinators. Their hair abdomens trap pollen, which is then transferred throughout the area, allowing plants to spread and grow.
3. Royal Jelly is Used to Feed the Next Queen
In the kingdom of bees, there is always a queen bee. If she dies, a new queen is chosen from the larvae section of the hive. Once the new queen hatches, she is fed royal jelly (a term coined by scientists) to ensure she grows into a fertile queen.
4. Queen Bees Live Up to Five Years
Worker bees have a lifespan of four to six weeks. Queen bees, however, will live up to five years. The reason why she lives a longer life is because she doesn’t spend her days gathering pollen and making honey. Her job is to lay up to 2,500 eggs per day, ensuring the colony can grow and thrive.
5. Bees are Excellent Flyers
Honeybees can fly at 25km per hour, which requires them to beat their wings 200 times per second.
6. Bees Produce Very Little Honey During a Lifetime
We already mentioned that worker bees can live up to six weeks, but did you know that during one lifetime, a worker bee produces only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey? Imagine how many bees are needed for a full jar!
7. They Have an Extraordinary Sense of Smell
One honeybee has 170 odor receptors. This enables them to communicate with bees from their own hives as well as those from other hives. Also, when making raw honey in Australia, a honeybee uses its sense of smell to distinguish between different types of flowers.
8. Each Bee Has Its Own Job
Every bee that forms part of a hive has a specific job. The queen bee is in charge of the entire hive and its her job to lay eggs and produce natural chemicals that affect bee behaviour. Worker bees are born to produce honey using pollen and nectar from flowers. They’re also in charge of building and protecting the beeswax comb. Lastly, drones are male bees. Their job is to mate with the queen bee and they rarely leave the hive. Drones are kicked out of the hive during the winter months.
9. Bees Brains Can Change
When a bee changes jobs in the hive, the chemistry in their brain is completely rewired. For instance, among the worker bees, there are scout bees who are always on the lookout for new sources of food. Among the drones, there are soldier bees who are in charge of guarding the beehive, while others are undertakers who remove dead bees from the honeycomb. However, there are regular bees who can undertake multiple jobs throughout their lifespan. Whenever they change jobs, their entire brain chemistry changes too, ensuring they are fully rewired for this new task.
10. Bee Venom is Beneficial
Bees are so amazing, even their sting has a good side. Researchers started looking into bee venom as a way to prevent HIV. Preventative gels are now being developed for this virus. Additionally, a bee sting can ease the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis by increasing glucocorticoid levels, which is our anti-inflammatory hormone.
11. Bees Have Personalities
A group of researchers at the University of Illinois conducted a study in 2011, which proved that bees have personalities and feelings. Some bees turned out to be more adventurous, while others took a timider approach to life. Agitated honeybees, on the other hand, showed pessimistic, depressed behaviour.
12. Bees Have Top-Notch Navigation Skills
When flying to or back from their hive, bees use the sun as their navigator. However, when the sky is cloudy, bees navigate using polarised light. They have specialised photoreceptors that help find the sun’s place in the sky, ensuring they can find food or home.
Aren’t bees simply fascinating? These buzzing, hardworking bugs give us raw honey full of healthy benefits, as well as amazing beeswax for candles, cosmetic and household products. Now that you know more about them, it’s probably easier to see why we should be doing everything we can to protect them.