The Amazing Honeybee

A bee can produce less than one half teaspoon of honey in her lifetime

• The average life span of a worker bee is 4-6 weeks; queen bees can live up to 5 years

• All worker bees are female and sterile; queen bees are the only egg layers

• Honeybees are not native to the Americas, but were brought by European settlers. Bees were called “White Man Flies” by Native Americans

• Drones are the only male bees in a hive. Their sole function is to mate with a virgin queen bee. Upon mating, the drone falls dead to the ground

• A drone comes from an unfertilized egg, and has no stinger

• A honeybee is not born knowing how to make honey; the younger bees learn to make honey from the adults

• It takes 8 to 10 pounds of nectar to make a pound of honey

• It takes 8 to 10 pounds of honey to make a pound of beeswax

• To produce a pound of honey, bees travel about 55,000 miles, and visit some 2 million flowers

• One bee colony can produce 60-100 pounds of honey per year

• A honeybee can fly about 12 mph

• The honeybee’s wings stroke 11,400 times per minute (that’s 190 times per second!)

• One ounce of honey would fuel honeybee flight nearly around world

• 80% of the fruit, vegetable, seed, and nut crops in the US require pollination by bees

• Honey never spoils. It can be stored indefinitely in a sealed container at room temperature

• Honey is 25% sweeter than table sugar, but contains healthful enzymes from the bees

• To create honey, bees drop collected nectar into individual honeycomb cells then concentrate it by standing over the cell and fanning their wings to evaporate the water

• A bee hive can house up to 80,000 bees!

• Male worker bees are called Drones. Their only job? Mating with the Queen. Interestingly, the drones sex organ is barbed and mating is followed by death!

• Honeycomb cells, made of beeswax, can support 25 times their own weight!

• In the natural world, honeybees built their rows of comb exactly 3/8″ apart. Frames in a commercial bee box are built exactly the same way. Any less space and the bees couldn’t move! Any more space and the bees build comb, which can block a beekeepers access.

• Forager bees (bees that bring nectar into the hive) communicate to other bees by gyrating- doing what is called the waggle dance. Morse code style, the bee spells out how to get from here to there in the air.

• Bees secrete beeswax from glands on their body, then use it to build the wax honeycomb.

• Male honeybees cannot sting.

•In the late fall, the colony produces enough heat to keep themselves from freezing, maintaining a temperature range of 60-80 degrees F. In the midwinter, when the Queen lays eggs, the temperature in the hive rises to a steady 93 degrees F.

• A Honeybee visits between 50 to 100 flowers during one collection flight from the hive.

• Honeybees have been on Earth for over 150 million years!

• Honeybees are not native to the US. They are European in origin and, were brought to American by early settlers.

• The Honeybee is the only insect (estimated worldwide insect population? 10 Quintillion.) that produces edible food for man.

• The scientific name for the honeybee is Apis mellifera.

• Do you know how useful bee venom is? It is used to help health issues like MS, arthritis and high blood pressure!

• A community of honeybees has often been employed throughout history by political theorists as a model of human society.

• The bee’s brain is oval in shape and only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has remarkable capacity to learn and remember things and is able to make complex calculations on distance traveled and foraging efficiency.

• Did you know that Georgia has TWO state insects? They are the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly and, our personal favorite, the Honeybee.

• Honey Bees are the worlds most important pollinators! It is estimated that 1/3 of the human diet is derived directly or indirectly from insect pollinated plants.

• Pheromones (odor cues) play a large role in the beehive. The Queen uses her pheromones to keep worker bees (all females) disinterested in mating. She also has a pheromone that encourages male drones to mate with her!

• Did you know that the reason male honeybees can’t sting is because the stinger is a modified ovipositor (egg-laying tube)? This is combined with a venom gland to create a stinger and is located at the end of the abdomen. Because the stinger is modified from a structure found only in females, male bees cannot sting.

• Contrary to popular belief, bees do sleep- or something like it! There is always activity in the hive, but occasionally honeybees will take a rest and relax- their body temperature drops, and they can become unresponsive.

• Bees only see ultraviolet light, which is invisible to humans.

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