No other insect serves the needs of humans (and bears, too!) like the honey bee. Honey bees pollinate an estimated one-third of all the food crops humans consume. here's a list of some things that perhaps you don't know about our little friends.
1. Bees can fly up to 15 miles an hour. Although that can seem pretty fast but, in the insect world, that's kind of slow. Bees are built for short "hops" going from flower to flower. Their tiny wings must flap 12,000 to 15,000 times per minute just to keep their "
pollen-laden bodies aloft for their flight home."
2. A colony can contain up to 60,000 bees. Talk about crowded living conditions! But it takes a lot of work to get their work done. Nanny or nurse bees take care of the young while the queen's attendants bathe and feed her. The guard bees stand watch at the door. Construction worker bees build the beeswax foundation in which the queen lays her eggs and the workers store honey. Undertakers carry off the dead from the hive. And the foragers must carry back enough pollen and nectar to feed the entire community.
3. A single worker bee produces only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey. This means that there's power in numbers. Between spring and fall, the colony must produce about 60 pounds of honey to carry the hive through the winter months. So it takes tens of thousands of bees to accomplish this important task.
4. A queen honey bee can lay more than 2,000 eggs a day. An average day is 1,500 eggs. In her lifetime, she can lay up to one million eggs!
5. Honey bees use complex symbolic language. Next to the primate family, 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." For instance, forager bees must find flowers, determine their value as a source of food, navigate their journey back home, and then share their information with other forager bees. "Karl von Frisch received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1973 for cracking the language code of honey bees"
6. A hive is a constant 93 degrees F (33.9 C) year-round. When the outside temperature begins to fall, honey bees form a tight little group to keep warm. Worker bees cluster around the queen to ensure her warmth. In the summer, the bees use their wings to fan the air and keep it cool. it's possible to hear the hum of the hive, from all those wings flapping, from several feet away. I think that's honey Leonard finds his honey, too!
7. Beeswax comes from special glands on the abdomen. The job of making beeswax falls to the youngest of the worker bees. The rest of the worker bees then use it to construct the honeycomb. Eight paired glands on the underside of the bees' abdomens produce wax droplets which then harden into flakes when they are exposed to air. The older worker bees then take the wax flakes in their mouths and work them around to soften them up enough to use as a construction material for the honeycomb.
8. A worker bee may visit 2,000 flowers per day. The worker bee can't carry that much pollen so she will visit 50 to 100 flowers before heading back to the hive. this means she must make many trips during her long day, causing a great deal of wear and tear on her little bee body. Sadly, a hardworking forager bee may live only three weeks but can cover up to 500 miles in that short time.
9. The queen aims for genetic diversity. On her mating flight, the queen will take sperm from 12 to 15 different drones to ensure the genetic health and diversity of the colony.
10. Bees are neat freaks. The bees that work to maintain the hive work diligently to keep it clean. The only bee who "does their business" inside the hive is the queen. And she employs a full staff to clean up after her. Honey bees are so neat that generally they don't even die inside the hive!
I hope you've learned a lot of cool facts about the honey bee. I know I have! After several years of steady decline, I'm happy to report that this past year has shown a slight increase in the bee population. But their population is a long way from being "out of the woods." Leonard and I both urge you to support local beekeepers and to sign petitions asking your government to help save bees from extinction and industry from using deadly pesticides. Until tomorrow, I wish you all
Peace (and a lot of yummy, gooey honey!)