Some interesting facts about honey bees that you may not have known: Zzzzzzzzz doink! What’s that on your arm? A bee? Great. It’s not exactly a pleasant feeling: painful, itchy, annoying, and scary. We’ve all been there before.
Why can honey bees sting only once
This happens because the bee jabs its barbed stinger into your skin and releases venom. The venom contains proteins that cause pain and can affect your immune system and skin cells. But that’s nothing compared to what the bee goes through. Poor little thing, you’ll be fine after a few hours, but the bee won’t be. Honeybees don’t usually sting people unless they feel threatened or if you accidentally step on them.
The problem is that after stinging you, the bee can’t pull its barbed stinger out of your skin. The only way to get free is to leave the stinger behind. Unfortunately, that stinger isn’t just a sweet defense mechanism; it also contains essential parts of the bee’s digestive tract, nerves, and muscles. After losing all that, this tiny creature doesn’t survive. Yikes, poor little bee.
Apart from that, bees are such cool animals. They have five eyes, two pairs of wings, and six legs! Bees have excellent survival instincts, and they’ve been around for a really long time, 130 million years and counting! Who knows what ancient species they’ve stung?
Most bees in the hive are called worker bees, and the big cheese is called the queen. She lays around 2,000 eggs per day. Sound like a lot? Well, the average hive contains 50,000 bees, and they disappear after just one sting! I guess going through a painful and itchy experience doesn’t actually sound that bad when you only have one bee on your arm… Imagine if you had the whole hive!
How do honey bees find their flight path?
It may seem like bees aimlessly fly around or use their vision to decide where they go. But these cool insects are pretty organized and rely on a super complex transport system. Imagine planning a cross-country road trip…only this time, there are no roads! I can’t even make it to the gym without my GPS… or if I stop at a burger joint on the way there.
But not bees, they’re way cooler than us. They use “B-Lines,” well, that’s what I call them. They’re basically a series of “insect pathways” bees tend to follow through human towns or the countryside. These pathways link every existing wildlife area together. It’s like a bee railway system!
Honeybees are very intelligent.
My favorite bee is the buff-tailed bumblebee. It has an oval-shaped body covered in dense hair and a brain the size of a poppy seed. Considering how small it is, that’s really impressive. How smart are they? Scientists made an experiment where they trained a bunch of them to play “bee soccer.” They even learned how to score a goal in return for a sweet sugary treat. Un-bee-lievable!
These same bees have another amazing ability. They use their “smelly footprints” to distinguish between the scents of strangers and their own bee relatives. They can even recognize their own scent. Bumblebees, we know your dirty little secret! You have smelly feet!
How are honeybees ranked in a hive?
And then, there’s the Queen bee. She’s unique in her colony, and her main task is laying eggs. People often assume the queen is there to tell all the other bees exactly what to do…yeah, not really. She does have a certain influence, but even without her, the hive actually functions pretty well.
Each bee has a job and knows its daily functions and tasks because of its instincts and the chemical signals it senses and uses. So I guess no one needs to tell them how to behave? Those chemical signals are their way of communicating. Oh, and they know how to shake it. They wiggle their bodies at specific angles for a certain amount of time, that’s how they send messages to each other.
If something happens to the queen bee, and she doesn’t survive, worker bees create a new one. Yup, they don’t find one but sort of raise a new one. They choose a young larva and feed the future “Her Majesty” a special food called “royal jelly.” That lucky larva can now grow into the new queen!
How much honey can a honey bee produce?
Bees are fast. They beat their wings almost 200 times a second! Those eight push-ups I can do in a minute aren’t sounding so impressive… Each bee produces around one teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. To produce one pound of honey, bees have to fly the equivalent of one whole time around the globe. These hardworking animals make around 100 million trips to about 2 million flowers to collect enough nectar for that pound of honey!
Honeybees sleep 5 to 8 hours a day, and just like us, they rest at night. Their brains are pretty active when they’re resting. Some scientists think they may be dreaming, also just like us! When winter rolls around, many insects replace their body water with a special chemical called glycerol, a type of natural “antifreeze” that helps them stay alive in low temperatures. But bees just huddle together in the hive to stay toasty warm!