To understand honey, it is imperative that you also understand the honey bee, for without these miraculous creatures, life on our earth would be vastly different. Without bees, agriculture as we know it would be impossible!
Bees are the most important pollinating insects, and some create honey from the nectar they collect. Honey has many medicinal used, and is the only food that contains all the substances necessary to sustain human life.
“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others”
Here are a few amazing facts about honey bees that is sure to pique your curiosity about these amazing insects:
- It is the only insect that produces food eaten by humans.
- It takes 500 honeybees traveling over 55,000 miles, making 10,000,000 foraging trips to gather enough nectar to make a single pound of honey.
- The honey bees wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus making their famous, distinctive buzz.
- A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
- A hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1 kg of honey.
- A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
- The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
- It takes one ounce of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.
- A colony of bees consists of 20,000-70,000 honeybees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female, live for about 6 weeks and do all the work.
- Honey Bees have 2 sets of wings, and 6 legs.
- Honey Bees have 2 stomachs.
- Honey Bees can not see the color white. That is why it is good to wear white in the summer and why Bee suits are always white!
- Honeybees stop flying when the weather drops below 50 degrees Farenheit. The worker bees huddle around the queen bee at the center of the winter cluster, shivering in order to keep the center around 80 degrees.
- Hibernating honey bees consume up to 30 pounds of stored honey during the winter months, which helps the bees produce body heat.
- Honeybees are not native to the USA. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers.
- Honeybees are not aggressive by nature, and will not sting unless protecting their hive from an intruder or are unduly provoked.
- Honeybees represent a highly organized society, with various bees having very specific roles during their lifetime: e.g., nurses, guards, grocers, housekeepers, construction workers, royal attendants, undertakers, foragers, etc.
- The queen bee can live for several years. Worker bees live for 6 weeks during the busy summer, and for 4-9 month during the winter months.
Queen Bee There is only one queen per hive of up to 70,000 bees. The queen is the only bee with fully developed ovaries. A queen bee can live for 3-5 years. The queen mates only once with several male (drone) bees, and will remain fertile for life. She lays up to 2000 eggs per day. Fertilized eggs become female (worker bees) and unfertilized eggs become male (drone bees). When she dies or becomes unproductive, the other bees will “make” a new queen by selecting a young larva and feeding it a diet of “royal jelly”. For queen bees, it takes 16 days from egg to emergence.
Worker Bee All worker bees are female, but they are not able to reproduce. Worker bees live for 4-9 months during the winter season, but only 6 weeks during the busy summer months (they literally work themselves to death). Nearly all of the bees in a hive are worker bees. A hive consists of 20,000 – 30,000 bees in the winter, and over 60,000 – 80,000 bees in the summer. The worker bees sequentially take on a series of specific chores during their lifetime: housekeeper; nursemaid; construction worker; grocer; undertaker; guard; and finally, after 21 days they become a forager collecting pollen and nectar. For worker bees, it takes 21 days from egg to emergence. The worker bee has a barbed stinger that results in her death following stinging, therefor, she can only sting once.
Drone Bee These male bees are kept on standby during the summer for mating with a virgin queen. Because the drone has a barbed sex organ, mating is followed by death of the drone. There are only 300-3000 drone in a hive. The drone does not have a stinger. Because they are of no use in the winter, drones are expelled from the hive in the autumn.
Why Do Honey Bees Swarm?
Typically, honey bee swarms occur when a hive becomes overcrowded. The colony forms a new queen, and the old queen flies away, taking part of the colony with her. The swarm lands on a branch or other object and waits until scout bees find a new nesting site such as a hollow tree. Then the swarm moves to the new location to begin another colony.
When Do Honey Bees Swarm?
Honey bee swarms usually occur during spring and early summer when bee populations increase rapidly. If swarms occur later in the year, bees may not survive the winter if they don’t quickly find a suitable nest
Please Call if you are sure you have a Honeybee swarm. This is what a swarm looks like. I may bee-able to come and get them within a reasonable distance of Sterling Heights, MI for a fee if time and weather permits. The HoneyBee is protected, PLEASE do not Kill them!