For a few years, my summer job was working for a local beekeeper. I would sell and package honey and I got to witness many interesting occurrences. I was terrified of bees before I started working there. Now, I not only got over my fear, but I am fascinated by them as well. Honey bees are very important to us and are responsible for a great deal of the world’s pollination. I have compiled some very interesting facts that I learned working for a beekeeper. Hopefully, you’ll learn something!
1. Worker honeybees are all females
Males do not know how to even feed themselves and their only reason for being in the hive is for reproducing with the queen. The males do not have a stinger and they are kicked out of the hive in the fall, because there are no uses for them.
2. Honeybees are very clean
I’d like to think they have slight OCD (like me). They want their hive (which they made themselves, hexagon by hexagon) to be immaculately clean. If something dirties their hive, they will immediately get the offense out. The only honey bee in the hive that uses the bathroom inside the hive is the queen. She never leaves the hive, so her faithful workers get her mess right out. Bees will also make sure that when their time comes, they will die outside of the hive.
3. There is only one queen per hive.
The queen lives 2-3 years as appose to the 6-8 weeks like the workers. The queen is made, rather than born. Worker bees will feed larvae royal jelly for a certain period of time. The royal jelly is secreted through the heads of the worker bees and is fed through their antennas to the larvae. The royal jelly has so many vitamins and nutrients it will allow for the larvae to become queens. Since there can only be one queen per hive, the potential queen bees will fight to the death until there is one queen remaining.
4. Honeybees are the only insects that make honey
Bumblebees make a honey like substance, but it tastes nothing like the sweet honey we know and love. They also make this in very small quantities. Honey bees though make honey in surplus so bee keepers are able to take a certain amount without hurting the bees or depriving them of food.
5. Honeybees never sleep
No wonder worker bees have such a short lifespan!
6. Honeybees are the only insects that produce something that humans eat
It is also the only food that never goes bad! Its sugar content is too high. Edible honey was found in King Tut’s tomb!
7. Honeybee colonies each have a distinct odor
The odor allows them to identify the members. Oftentimes, beekeepers will need to assimilate colonies. A way to do that would be to place bees from each colony into a paper bag together. The paper bag should have a divider so each colony stays on its own side. Being in the container together the smells will mix and they will not be able to recognize the other bees as enemies due to their familiar odor.
8. The queen lays around 2,000 eggs per day
She can also select the gender of the larvae. Most larvae that will be produced will be female.
9. The average honeybee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime
To make one pound of honey it would take 556 workers and 2 million flowers. 50-100 flowers are pollinated during one collection trip. About one ounce of honey is all it takes to give the honey bee enough energy to fly around the world (although the farthest they usually fly away from their hive is six miles).
10. Bees are responsible for 80% of pollination that occurs
So next time you’re eating any fruit or vegetable, thank a honey bee!