1. Honey bees can fly up to 15 mph (24.14 kph). Fifteen miles per hour might seem fast, but in the bug world, it's actually rather slow. Honey bees are built for short trips from flower to flower, not for long-distance hauls. Their tiny wings must flap 12,000 to 15,000 times per minute just to keep their pollen-laden bodies aloft for the flight home. And I thought I had problems hopping after a big meal.....
2. A colony may contain 60,000 bees! It takes a lot of bees to get all the work done, from 20,000 to 60,000, in fact. Nurse bees care for the young, while the queen's attendant workers bathe and feed her. Guard bees stand watch at the door. Construction workers build the beeswax foundation in which the queen lays eggs and the workers store honey. Undertakers carry the dead from the hive. Foragers must bring back enough pollen and nectar to feed the entire community. My family is pretty small, then, by comparison.
3. A single worker bee produces only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. Remember that the next you buy honey and want to complain about the cost.
4. A queen honey bee can lay more than 2,000 eggs per day!
5. Honey bees use complex symbolic language. Outside of the primate family, honey bees have the most complex symbolic language on Earth. The insects pack a million neurons into a brain that measures a mere cubic millimeter, and they use every one of them. Worker bees must perform different roles throughout their lives. Foragers must find flowers, determine their value as a food source, navigate back home, and share detailed information about their finds with other foragers. Karl von Frisch received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1973 for cracking the language code of honey bees—the waggle dance.
6. A hive is a constant 93 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. (33.89 C). As temperatures fall, the bees form a tight group within their hive to stay warm. Workers cluster around the queen, insulating her from the outside cold. In summer, the workers fan the air within the hive with their wings, keeping the queen and brood from overheating. You can hear the hum of all those wings beating inside the hive from several feet away.
7. Beeswax comes from special glands on the bee's abdomen.
8. A worker bee may visit 2,000 flowers a day! She can't carry pollen from that many flowers at once, so a worker bee will visit 50 to 100 flowers before heading home. All day long, she repeats these round-trip flights to forage, which puts a lot of wear and tear on her body. A hardworking forager may live just three weeks and cover 500 miles.
9. The hive controls the types of bees that emerge. Which bees are produced by eggs depends on what the larvae are fed. The larvae that become queens are fed only royal jelly. Other bees become female workers because they're fed fermented pollen (bee bread) and honey.
10. Bees are neat freaks! Bees that maintain the hive work diligently to keep it clean. The only bee that defecates inside the hive is the queen, and there are bees that clean up after her when that happens. Honey bees generally won't even die inside the hive most of the time. They'll go outside to keep their corpse away from their food and nursing young.
Aren't bees fascinating creatures? The world is lucky to have them. And humans must work together to combat climate change and habitat loss that is killing off bees at an alarming rate. BEE good. BEE best.
That does it for me today. Please join me tomorrow for a Friday funday blog celebrating Miniature Golf Day. Until then, please BEE kind.