Interesting Bee Facts

Beekeeper holding a honeycomb covered in many honeybees

Due to their ability to pollinate plants, bees play a vital role in the global economy. Around the world, farmers rely on bees to pollinate their crops continuously year after year. Due to their role as pollinators, honey bees contribute approximately $15 billion to the US economy each year. [1] 

There is no doubt that bees are crucial to global food security. As a whole, pollinators, including bats and butterflies, contribute about $24 billion to the US economy each year. All pollinators play an important role in the economy, but bees account for more than half of it.

As a result of this economic impact, many people are raising awareness about the importance of bee conservation. Keeping bees safe and protected is crucial to the economy and food security. 

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    A Bee Produces 0.8 Grams of Honey in Its Lifetime

    In their short lives, honey bees produce about 0.8 grams of honey. [2] Furthermore, worker bees themselves weigh only approximately 0.11 grams. Over the course of its lifetime, a worker honey bee produces approximately seven times its own body weight in honey. 

    The lifespan of these bees can range from 30 days to 200 days, depending on the season and the level of danger they are exposed to. During just one month of hard work, a bee can produce seven times its weight in honey, which demonstrates just how diligent these bees are.

    During the busy time of the year, honey bees also live shorter on average because of the extra effort they have to put into producing honey. Almost constantly, worker honey bees are extremely busy, and their honey output reflects this.

    The fact that each worker bee is capable of producing a very large amount of honey for their size also explains how beehives produce so much honey.

    Bees Mate in Flight, Then the Male Bee Loses His Reproductive Organs and Dies

    Flying in the air, a virgin bee queen will actually mate with several male honey bees. The queen will fly to an area populated by male honey bees in order to accomplish this. A male bee will insert his endophallus into the queen as soon as he becomes aware of its presence. 

    During this flight, only about ten bees will be able to mate with the queen. Upon returning to their hive, queen bees lay eggs for the remainder of their lives.

    As soon as they are done, the male honey bee pulls away from the queen and his endophallus tears away from his body, resulting in his death. As the endophallus is removed from the body of the male bee, the abdomen is completely torn open. 

    Three bees in the process of mating
    The male honey bees are only capable of mating seven to ten times during a flight, and after mating, they die quickly as their abdomens rip open when their endophallus is removed. 

    When the next bee mates with the queen, it will simply remove the previous bee’s endophallus before inserting its own.

    While bees that mate with the queen die due to their abdomen being ripped open, male bees that survive also tend to die. This is due to the fact that the bees have been removed from their former beehives since their sole purpose has been fulfilled.

    A queen bee will only have one mating flight in its lifetime, and it will occur when it is relatively young. During this single flight, a queen bee accumulates several million sperm in its spermatheca, which it can use to fertilize eggs throughout its life. Once a queen runs out of sperm, the hive will find a new queen to replace it

    The Queen Controls the Sex of the Young Bees

    Queen bees are responsible for determining the sex of their offspring, as they are able to determine whether or not an egg has been fertilized as it passes through their ovaries. The sex of the bees is determined by whether or not an egg is fertilized. 

    When an egg is fertilized, it will either become a female worker bee or another queen bee. If an egg is not fertilized, it becomes a male drone bee. Although female worker bees are also capable of reproducing, they can only lay unfertilized eggs that will develop into male drones.

    The sex of the queen’s offspring also determines the amount of time needed for them to develop. It takes 24 days for male drone bees to grow from their eggs. The development of female worker bees takes 21 days, while that of female queen bees takes only 16 days.

    A Healthy Environment Needs Bees

    There is no question that bees are critically important to the global economy and to food production and security across the world, all of which contribute to a healthy environment.

    In addition to fertilizing crops, bees also contribute to the growth of flowers, as well as other trees and plants that can be found in any natural environment. [3] 

    It is these plants that contribute to the growth and health of the environment, as they allow other creatures in nature to grow and flourish.

    Male Honey Bees Have no Father, But They Do Have a Grandfather

    As strange as it may sound, male honey bees can actually have a grandfather without having a father. This is due to the fact that female worker bees are capable of laying unfertilized eggs on their own. As a result, newborn male bees inherit only one set of chromosomes from the queen who laid their worker bee mother. 

    However, their worker bee mother possesses DNA from both a queen bee and a male drone bee. Thus, the original male honey bee in question has a grandfather bee without a father bee.

    A Queen Bee Can Lay Up to 3000 Eggs Per Day

    Only queen bees are capable of laying worker bee eggs and queen bee eggs in a beehive. As a result, they are required to produce many eggs each day. A queen bee is capable of laying as many as 3,000 eggs in a single day. 

    In order to accomplish this, the queen bee must continue laying eggs rapidly. Queens that are healthy and fertile lay eggs almost continuously[4]. An egg production rate of 3,000 eggs per day is normally only achieved by quality queens that are in good health. 

    Even though queen bees are able to live for around seven years, their production declines after a few years. As soon as a decline in egg production begins to appear, some beehives may replace their queen, while others may replace their queen on a yearly basis.

    Honey Bees Cannot See the Colour Red

    Honey bees are trichromatic. The result is that bees have three distinct and independent color receptors behind each of their eyes. In addition, humans are trichromatic as well, as their receptors are able to detect the colors red, green, and blue. 

    Bees’ color receptors, like those of humans, are sensitive to green and blue, but instead of red, their third and final color receptor responds to ultraviolet light.

    Honeybee collecting nectar and pollen from a red petalled flower
    Did you know that honeybees have hairy eyes?

    The absence of a red color receptor prevents honey bees from seeing the color red in the same way as humans. It is still possible for bees to land on red flowers and fertilize them, however. 

    This is possible due to their UV color receptor. Bees are able to detect ultraviolet markings on flowers by using this receptor.

    These UV markings may serve as a signal for bees to land on a flower. The combination of this ultraviolet receptor, coupled with their incredible sense of smell, enables bees to fertilize red flowers despite their inability to see the color red.

    Honey Bees Have Hair All Over Their Body, Including Their Eyes

    Honey bees are covered with hair on their entire bodies, including their eyes. There is a purpose to this abundance of hair, as it assists honey bees in collecting as much pollen as possible on their bodies. 

    When a bee makes a stop on a flower to fertilize it, these hairs are able to pick up pollen. Pollen can also be picked up by the hairs on the bee’s eyes, as even these small hairs can collect pollen. Moreover, the bee’s eye hairs ensure that pollen does not stick to the eye itself, but instead to the eye hairs.

    Alarm Pheromones That Honey Bees Release When Sensing Danger Smell Like Bananas

    When bees sting, they release a pheromone called alarm pheromone. The alarm pheromone is intended to alert other bees in the area to the danger that the bee has encountered. [5] 

    Bees respond to this pheromone by defending their hives against any danger that may be present in the area. This pheromone is very important for bees and keeps them safe from danger, but it also has an interesting odor. 

    There is a distinct banana-like scent to this pheromone. A person who has been stung by a bee and smells like bananas afterward may need to wash their clothing in order to fully remove this pheromone.

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