The story of keeping honey bees goes back to about 4,500 years! That’s how long the honey bee has been used for their production of tasty honey and to help pollinate crops. As a matter of fact, honey bees pollinate an estimated 1/3 of all the food crops we consume! Without the honey bee, we would lose countless plant species, which would have a devastating affect on human and animal populations. The honey bee exists on every continent in the world, sans Antarctica. They have even been to outer space. Before we get into the plethora of facts, ever wonder why bee keeper suits are always white? It’s because bees react strongly to dark colors. A white suit limits the negative reactions and thus limits the amount of potential stings a apiculturalist gets.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Apis
Weight: Up to .00025 lbs.
Length: Up to .59 inch
Wingspan: Up to 1.33 inches
Lifespan: Up to 152 days
Now on to the Facts!
1.) In their 6 – 8 week long lifespan, a worker bee has to fly the distance of 1.5 times the circumference of the Earth.
2.) Honey bees have to gather nectar from 2,000,000 flowers to make just 1 pound of honey!
3.) A honey bee visits between 50 – 100 flowers during a single collection venture.
4.) If the queen dies,the workers will create a new queen by selecting a young replacement larva and feeding it a special food termed “royal jelly”. This food causes the larva to develop into a fertile queen.
5.) A single colony can house up to 60,000 bees.
But wait, there’s more on the honey bee!
6.) The bee’s brain is oval shaped and roughly the size of a sesame seed. However, it has an amazing ability to learn and remember things. For instance, it’s able to make detailed calculations on distance traveled and foraging efficiency.
7.) The average worker bee lives for only 5 – 6 weeks. During this time, she’ll make around 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. That’s it. But then multiply that amount by 60,000 and you get the point of how much honey bees can produce.
Did you know…?
The honey bee can reach flying speeds of up to 20 mph! That’s the fastest of any known flying insect. Their wings have to beat an estimated 12,000 – 15,000 times per minute to get to this speed.
8.) Bees communicate with each other via a special dance.
9.) The male honey bees (aka drones), have no stinger and do no work at all. All they do is mate. Must be nice.
10.) Referred to as ‘colony collapse disorder’, billions of honey bees throughout the world are leaving their hives! In some areas, up to 90% of bees have disappeared! This phenomenon is still a mystery.
But wait, there’s still more on the honey bee!
11.) Mead, which is made from fermented honey, is the world’s oldest fermented beverage. It’s older than beer.
12.) Honey bees are the only insect that produces food eaten by humans. However, some people are trying to push cockroach milk as a new food source. No thanks.
13.) The perfectly shaped hexagons that form a honeycomb holds the most amount of honey with the smallest amount of material. This material is made out of wax.
14.) A queen can store a lifetime supply of sperm with just a single mating! She retains the sperm in her spermatheca (a small internal cavity) and uses that to fertilize thousands of eggs throughout her lifetime.
15.) After mating with a queen, the drone dies. Hey, it takes a lot out of a guy to produce enough super sperm to impregnate a queen for life.
But wait, there’s still even more on the honey bee!
16.) A queen can lay up to 2,500 eggs per day, during her 5 year lifespan.
17.) There are 3 types of bees in every hive: a queen, worker bees, and drones. The drones are the only males.
18.) These tiny critters never sleep. Hence the term “busy bee” or “busy as a bee”. They spend their nights motionless, conserving energy for the next day’s chores.
19.) Honey never spoils. Yep. It’s the only known food that has this trait. There was even honey found in King Tut’s tomb. Guess what… it was still viable.
20.) Honey is the only known source of the antioxidant called pinocembrin.
Yep, you guessed it, there’s still more on the honey bee!
21.) Even though bees do have jointed legs, they do not possess a kneecap, and therefore do not have knees. So, that saying, “It’s the bees knees” is totally inaccurate.
22.) An individual hive can yield about 60 – 100 lbs. of honey a year.
Did you know…?
Beeswax is found in a great deal of everyday products, like cosmetics, furniture polishes, and medicine. Honey is even used ‘as-is’ as a cough syrup or sore throat remedy. I use it, when I have a persistent cough.
23.) There are people in Africa that keep elephants out of their fields by setting up honey bee hives around the fields. This is called a “bee fence.”
24.) Beekeeping is said to be the 2nd oldest profession. I wont mention what the 1st is. You’ll just have to look it up.
25.) Honey bee venom is more deadly than cobra venom. Don’t worry though, it takes 19 stings for every 2.2 lbs. of a person’s body weight to be lethal. Hence the donning of a bee suit.
And here’s just a little more on the honey bee!
26.) A worker bee can carry a load of nectar or pollen weighing up to 80% of her body weight!
27.) Bees have been around for an estimated 30 million years.
28.) Even though bears do like honey, they actually prefer to eat bee larvae. That is where the protein really is.
29.) Bees make honey by regurgitating digested nectar into honeycomb cells and then fanning it with their wings. You heard that right. All this time, you’ve been consuming bee vomit. Mmmmmm!
30.) The science of beekeeping is called “apiculture”. If you’re a bee keeper, you are an apiculturalist. (Useless fact? Maybe.)