For a long time, honey bees have been undervalued, numerous individuals just considered honey bees to be irritating signals and didn’t think a lot of the effect they have on a situation and economy. Nonetheless, a critical decrease of honey bee provinces encouraged enormous changes by the way we see them. Lately, honey bees and their significance for our condition have been advanced much more. A greater spotlight is put on finding out about them and their life, which made individuals more mindful of the issues they are confronting.
Honey bees are astonishing animals and are available all around the globe. They are probably the best pollinator on the planet, and a great deal of the food we eat relies upon their difficult work. The world without honey bees is incomprehensible as their annihilation would enormously influence our economy and food sources. There are numerous sorts of honey bees, yet this time we will concentrate on honey bees. Go along with us on an excursion through 20 honey bee realities and you may gain proficiency with some stunning things about our companions honey bees.
1. Do bees sleep?
Bees do sleep. The thing is that they sleep differently to human beings. Research has shown that they do need to sleep for five to eight hours at a time, much like we do.
However, it is believed that they simply stay still during this time to ensure that they save their much-needed energy for when they’re busy.
They’ll find a place to stay in this very still state for a long period of time, so that when they do “wake up,” they have the energy to go about their day.
2. A hive could have more than one queen bee.
3. Bees go through four stages of development
Honey bee facts are not complete without at least mentioning their fascinating development. Even though there are three types of bees (castes) in a beehive, each with its responsibilities, they all start the same. The stages of honey bee development are egg, larva, pupa and in the final stage we have an adult bee.
The difference between castes during development is the time spent in each stage.The queen has the fastest development(16 days), while drone has the longest(24 days).
The egg stage lasts the same for all castes – three days. During this stage, the genetic material of the queen and drones she has mated with are combined which develops into an embryo. Three days after larva is hatched and the next stage starts.
The larval stage lasts 4 – 6 days and larva remains at the bottom of the honeycomb cell. Worker bees feed the larva with secretions so the larva can grow and develop. Before the next stage, the workers cap the cell and the larva makes a cocoon.
The pupal stage is preceded by the pre-pupal stage which ends with a molt. This stage is a critical time for a honey bee because during this stage larva goes through the greatest amount of physical change. It changes from a white larva into a black and yellow adult.
When the adult bee is ready, she chews the cap of her cell and emerges ready for her duties. Honey bees are divided into three castes and each caste benefits the colony differently.
4. Bees use the sun to help them navigate.
According to the British Beekeepers Association, bees use the position of the sun to help them navigate. There’s also evidence of their sensitivity to the Earth’s magnetic field. Bees are even able to see the sun through thick clouds because their eyes are sensitive to polarized light.
5. A honey bee colony is technically immortal
The workers are the only ones responsible for pollination since the queen doesn’t leave the hive, and drones don’t forage. In winter the colony is not very active so worker bees can live five months or more. In summer honey production is at its high which unfortunately drains the worker bees quicker. Their lifespan in summer is only five to six weeks.
The average lifespan of a male honey bee (drone) is eight weeks, and they usually don’t survive the winter. Six days after hatching drones leave the hive for mating and if successful usually die within an hour after mating. Drones which were unsuccessful return to the hive and stay there until worker bees let them. Since their only role is mating with the queen, they are usually kicked out in winter because of lack of food.
The queen bee has the longest lifespan, she can live 2-3 years. Her only obligation is laying eggs. On average the queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day which means that young bees are constantly arriving.
This means that a bee colony is continuously growing. If some bee dies, another bee is ready to take her place. If the queen doesn’t lay enough eggs or something happens to her, worker bees will raise another queen to replace her.
Since bees are replaced continuously, the colony technically cannot die. Wouldn’t you say that this is one of the most amazing honey bee facts?
6. Bees can solve hairy mathematical problems.
Pretend it’s the weekend, and it’s time to do errands. You have to visit six stores and they’re all at six separate locations. What’s the shortest distance you can travel while visiting all six? Mathematicians call this the “traveling salesman problem,” and it can even stump some computers.
But for bumblebees, it’s a snap. Researchers at Royal Holloway University in London found that bumblebees fly the shortest route possible between flowers. So far, they’re the only animals known to solve the problem.
7. Bees communicate through movement.
One of the interesting bee facts reveals that they communicate with one another through movement. Some say that it looks like their dancing or head-butting each other, depending on the message that they’re trying to get across.
8. Honey bees can detect explosives
For decades military and police have been using dogs to detect explosives, but it seems that dogs got a competition. Honey bees have a strong sense of smell which is comparable to dogs sense of smell.
Their keen sense of smell helps the bees in finding flowers and choosing the best source of nectar when there is a high number of flowers to choose from. The odorant receptors of honey bee are more powerful than receptors of mosquitoes or fruit flies.
Honey bees can detect molecular hints of pollen in the air so they can just as easily detect traces of other particles in the air, such as materials used to make bombs. They can detect the scent of explosives even at concentrations of two parts per trillion.
This is equivalent to finding a grain of sand in a swimming pool. Scientists have found a way to put honey bee’s remarkable scent to good use by training them to detect explosives.
The prototype used in an experiment was a box containing three bees which were previously trained to detect explosives.
The training took advantage of proboscis extension reflex (PER) which is a part of the feeding behavior. This reflex includes the extension of a honey bee’s proboscis (another name for a bee tongue) as a reflex to antennal stimulation.
During training, scientists would release a bit of air with a scent of explosives and at the same time give bees some sugary water on a cotton bud.
Bees would put their tongue out whenever a cotton bud with sugary water touched their antennae. The training was similar to Pavlov’s dog experiment. This behavior was used for detection of explosives.
The scent of explosives would trigger a reaction in trained bees; they would put their tongue out expecting to get sugary water.
A box containing three bees had a video camera which monitored bee response. Researchers would bring a box with trained bees close to the object with or without explosives and observed the reaction from bees.
When close to explosives, all three bees would put their tongue out as a confirmation that explosives are detected.
In another experiment, honey bees were trained to swarm at the location of explosives which proved to be effective but only for contained spaces. At first, the bees were tracked visually but in large areas that was problematic. For easier tracking honey bees were fitted with small radio transmitters.
The advantages of training bees for detecting explosives are that bees are easier to take care off, learn quicker, and aren’t easily distracted from their task. Honey bees are truly versatile, so we just couldn’t miss it out in our list of honey bee facts.
9. Honey bees can recognize human faces.
You might be surprised that face recognition is among honey bee facts, but it is pretty remarkable. We thought that face recognition was reserved only for animals with large brains, with an area of the brain specially reserved for face recognition.
However, scientists have found that this is not true. To us humans honey bees all look the same, but we might not all look the same to them. A study has shown that honey bees can learn to recognize human faces in photos, and also can remember the faces even two days after seeing them.
Honey bees were presented with photos of faces which had similar background colors, lighting, sizes and included only the face and neck not to confuse the bees with clothes. Some faces were very simplistic, they had two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth. The researchers trained the bees to choose correct human faces by rewarding them with sugar water if they chose correctly. A few bees have failed to recognize what the task was, but five bees learned what to do.
While trying to recognize faces, honey bees would fly towards the photo horizontally so they could get a good look at it. Honey bees would also hover a few centimeters above the photo before deciding where to land. The bees had 80% accuracy with recognizing correct faces. However, note that even some humans have issues with recognizing faces.
10. Bee stings have health benefits.
It’s a fact that melittin — found in the venom of honey bees — may prevent HIV. It’s also known that the substance can relieve pain in people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
11. How many stomachs do bees have?
Bees have a total of two stomachs. The one is a regular stomach for food and digestion, which they need in order to survive. The second stomach is a special one that is designed to store the nectar that the bee has collected from various flowers, as well as water. Having two stomachs helps the honey bees in their daily job of collecting nectar and creating delicious honey. Without it, they wouldn’t be able to grab the nectar from the flowers and transport it.
12. The queen bee can select the sex of their larvae
This queen bee fact surely deserves a spot in our list of honey bee facts. This finding is important for how we see queen bees because it breaks the notion that they are just mindless egg laying machines and that worker bees decide on the sex of new bees.
The sex of a bee is decided upon fertilization of an egg. Young queen bee goes on a mating flight and collects the sperm from multiple males. The collected sperm is used for the rest of her life. While laying eggs, the queen can choose whether to add sperm to an egg. Addition of sperm to an egg is what decides the sex of that bee. Fertilized eggs give female bees, while unfertilized eggs give male bees.
Some scientists believe that worker bees are the ones deciding the sex of young bees because they are the ones building cells for those eggs. The size of female and male cells is different, so that is also a deciding factor when choosing the sex of a bee. The cells for female eggs are slightly smaller than cells for male eggs. Worker bees control how many cells of each size they build which also affect which eggs the queen lays.
13. When bees change jobs, they change their brain chemistry.
Bees are hardwired to do certain jobs. Scout bees, which search for new sources of food, are wired for adventure. Soldier bees, discovered in 2012, work as security guards their whole life. One percent of all middle-aged bees become undertakers—a genetic brain pattern compels them to remove dead bees from the hive. But most amazingly, regular honeybees—which perform multiple jobs in their lifetime—will change their brain chemistry before taking up a new gig.
14. Bees are changing medicine.
To reinforce their hives, bees use a resin from poplar and evergreen trees called propolis. It’s basically beehive glue. Although bees use it as caulk, humans use it to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Research shows that propolis taken from a beehive may relieve cold sores, canker sores, herpes, sore throat, cavities, and even eczema.
15. Honey bees are just like us, they love caffeine!
A study from 2015 which was published in the journal Current Biology showed that bees love getting high on caffeine. The biologists had set up two feeders containing a sugar solution and to one of them they added a bit of caffeine. The concentration added was small and can naturally occur in nectar. Bees used in the experiment were from three different hives.
Researchers trained the bees to collect the solution from one of the feeders, same as they would collect nectar. The bees have been observed for three hours and the researchers noticed something interesting.
Honey bees returned to the caffeinated solution more frequent than to the solution without caffeine. Also, the bees modified their waggle dance when they returned to the hive. Usually, the waggle is more frequent the sweeter the nectar. Even though both solutions had the same concentration of sugar, caffeine changed the frequency of waggle dance upon returning to the hive.
The effect of caffeine on honey bees is similar to drugging because it tricks them into thinking that the caffeinated forage is more valuable than it actually is. Another effect of caffeine is that bee forage is affected even when there is no caffeine anymore. The day after the experiment, the bees chose the feeder which previously had caffeinated solution even though both feeders were empty this time. Also, bees were less likely to investigate the other feeder.
The willingness to explore other options after the source has been exhausted is a natural adaptive behavior for bees. If one plant has had food then maybe its neighbors might also have food. Such behavior is good for the plant but bad for bees because it makes them overestimate forage quality.
16. Only female honey bees can sting.
Honey bee stings are one of the most known honey bee facts. In a traditional beehive, bees that sting are worker bees and the queen. They use their stinger as a weapon when protecting the hive. A bee that is away from the beehive will usually not sting unless provoked by rough handling or getting stepped on.
When honey bees perceive something as a threat to the beehive, worker bees actively seek out to sting. Whenever you are close to the hive there is a possibility of stings. If you get stung, you have to be able to recognize warning signs in case you are allergic to bee venom.
17. Bees Work Harder Than You do.
During chillier seasons, worker bees can live for nine months. But in the summer, they rarely last longer than six weeks—they literally work themselves to death.
18. Honey bee pollination accounts for approximately one-third of the food we eat.
19 . Male honey bees are kicked out of the hive when they cannot mate
Male honey bees, also known as drones, lead a life very different from the life of a worker bee. They are larger, don’t have a stinger, cannot collect pollen, and are physically unable to do work around the hive. Pretty much their only two jobs in the beehive are eating and mating.
Since queens are produced only when the weather is nice enough, in cold weather drones are unable to perform their primary function – mating. In winter drones only use up the resources while not providing anything to the beehive, so they are kicked out. Also, honey bees stop rearing drones until the days get warmer and flowers start to bloom. As a part of the preparation for the winter, it is not uncommon to see dead drones in the grass or drones being dragged out of beehive by worker bees.
In the height of the summer, the drone population is at its highest. They need a lot of resources, so drones are kept with the colony only if the resources are abundant. Because of this, a population of drones can indicate issues with the colony. One of honey bee facts is that healthy colonies should have many drones in summer as that shows that there is plenty of food for the bees. If drones are kicked out during summer, that can indicate issues within the hive, such as not having enough food.
20. Bees can discern and remember faces.
Bees see people in much the same way we do, which allows them to remember certain characteristics of faces. This cool fact about bees suggests that they can map out features on human faces, which is why this is currently being studied to help with the development of facial recognition software.
21. Honey bee attack smells like bananas!
Bees communicate in many different ways, but one of them is truly surprising. We already know that many animals use pheromones in communication, and bees are not an exception. Honey bees use many pheromones in communication, but some are more famous than others.
Pheromones with a little special something are alert pheromones, pheromones that smell like bananas. These pheromones are released either by a sting or by honey bee opening the sting chamber and protruding the stinger.
When one bee attacks, other bees will soon follow because of pheromones. When a honey bee stings a threat, it gets marked by pheromones which tell other bees to attack. This is an effective way of dealing with threats which can easily win over a single bee. But nothing can fight the colony which can have thousands of bees.
Beekeepers are very familiar with the scent of alarm pheromones and know the importance of having a bee smoker ready. The smoker confuses the bees and masks their pheromones, so they aren’t as aggressive. Beekeepers are often advised to avoid using products with the banana scent because it could trigger an attack.
22. Bees are Job Creators.
The average American consumes roughly 1.51 pounds of honey each year. On top of that, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that honeybees pollinate up to 80 percent of the country’s insect crops—meaning bees pollinate over $15 billion worth of crops each year.
23. There are three types of bees in a colony: the queen, the workers, and the drones.
The queen bee is responsible for laying eggs, building the hive, and ruling over its colony. The worker bees — which are all female — collect pollen and nectar and do all the work around the hive. The drones (the male honey bees) don’t do much except copulate with the queen so that she can lay eggs. Furthermore, the worker bee facts reveal that they’re the busiest of all bees in the hive.
Bees are magnificent creatures who are able to do so many different things. It’s great that we are able to learn all about them with these fascinating and amazing bee facts. We hope that you feel far more informed than when you started this article. You might even feel like you want to order a box of honey bees and become an amateur beekeeper. We won’t blame you if you do! If you want to know more about these bee related articles, you should check out https://beekeeping201.com/. Next time you see a bee, don’t run away, just think about all the amazing things it’s capable of doing.