The honey bee has been around for millions of years and has been studied and written about for ages. Honey bees are comprised of three primary roles: the queen, the drone, and the worker bee. The queen is the mother of most, if not all of the bees in the hive and is the dominate force in the colony. The drone is the male honey bee and does not have a stinger nor does it gather pollen. The worker bee is female and is the smallest of the honey bees. Their job is to keep the hive functioning.
Now that you have a good primer on the hive, here are 15 buzzworthy facts about bees.
Facts about bees:
- The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by humans. The average American eats about one pound of honey a year.
- For every pound of honey produced, a hive must collect 10 pounds of pollen. A honey bee will visit anywhere from 50 to 100 flowers during a single collection trip. Fortunately, a honey bee can fly for up to six miles and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
- The bees’ “buzz” is the sound made by their wings. Honey bees beat their wings 200 times per second or around 11,400 times per minute.
- A single bee will produce only about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. To produce one pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited.
- An average beehive can hold around 50,000 bees. A single hive can produce anywhere from 60 to 100 pounds of honey every year.
- Bees have 2 stomachs. One for eating, and one for storing nectar. They also have five eyes and two pair of wings.
- Bees communicate by dancing. The locations of resources such as food, water, nest sites, and tree resin are communicated by a figure-eight dance known as a waggle dance.
- Scientists have trained bees to recognize explosives. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a method to train honeybees to stick out their proboscis (the tube they use to feed on nectar) when they smell explosives used in bombs.
- Each bee colony has its own unique scent so that members can identify each other. Guard bees, that act as a type of bee bouncer, hover near the hive entrance and “smell” other bees that try enter the hive. If the bouncers detect a bee with an incorrect odor, they expel that bee from the hive.
- The science of beekeeping is called “apiculture”. There are approximately 212,000 beekeepers in the United States according to U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Bees are sold by the pound. A single bee weighs .00025 pounds. 4000 bees together weigh only one pound.
- The only job of the drone is to mate with the queen. The drone is the only male found in the hive and their only task is to mate with new queens. At about two weeks of age, a drone will hit sexual maturity and take mating flights that last about 30 minutes.
- Drones die after mating with a queen. Regardless, drones will compete for the chance to mate with their queen. They don’t fight. They just see who can fly closest to successfully mate. A queen can mate with up to 15 different drones. Even if a drone survives mating, he is expelled from the colony.
- A newly hatched queen immediately kills all other queens in the hive. She must destroy any unhatched potential rivals.
- Bees are the official state insect of 16 U.S. states. Of the 48 U.S. states that have officially designated State Insects, 16 of them claim the bee. The states are: Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Utah’s nickname is also the “Beehive State”.
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Also, go ahead and share some facts about bees that we might have missed in the comments section below.