Happy National Honey Bee Day! What better way to celebrate than to list 10 Reasons to Love Honey Bees? No better way. Let's go.
1. In the hive, women rule!
A honey bee colony can range from 60-80,000 bees. Three types of bees populate a hierarchical beehive: the queen, workers, and drones. The queen runs the show and makes bee babies - up to 3,000 eggs per day! The workers are all lady bees and do important tasks like foraging for food, caring for the young, protecting the hive, and keeping it a clean and desirable place to live. The third type of bee is called a drone. These are male bees, with no stinger, whose sole purpose is to mate with the queen. Once winter comes and the hive goes into survival mode, the drones are kept from entering the hive and starve.
2. Honey is bee food...and sometimes we get some, too.
Honey is food for the bees, and they stock up to survive the winter - it's been estimated that two million flowers are visited to produce one pound of honey. Luckily, they produce about 2-3x more honey than they need. The nicest beekeepers take some honey and leave the rest.
3. Honey bees are FAST.
Honey bees beat their four wings 11,400 per minute and can fly at speeds up to 15 miles per hour, and distances up to five miles.
4. Honey bees are important for food supply and ecosystem health.
Honey bees (and other pollinators) transfer pollen between the male and female parts of plants, assisting the to grow fruit and produce seeds. It's estimated that honey bees are now responsible for pollinating 70-80% of the United States' food crop. (Native pollinators are important and in danger, too.)
5. Honey bees are SMART!
A bee's brain chemistry can change depending on what job she needs to do. And if an old bee needs to take on the task of a younger bee, her brain will stop aging or even age in reverse! A study also found that swarms of bees and brains made up of neurons make decisions using similer processes.
6. Honey bees don't forget a face.
Bees use "configural processing" which pieces together components of our faces - eyes, lips, nose, mouth - to form a pattern they'll recognize and remember. So when a bee curiously buzzes around you, be nice and stay still.
7. Honey bees have sweet moves.
When honey bees return to the hive to report a food source, they do a series of movements called "the waggle dance" using duration, vibration, and direction to tell other bees where to find the prime food spot.
8. Honey bees are workaholics.
Not only do honey bees never sleep, they also get around. During a collection trip, a bee will visit 50-100 flowers and still make only 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her entire lifetime, which can range from 5-8 weeks in the summer and 4-6 months in the winter. In a bees short lifetime, she'll fly 1.5x the circumference of the earth. By the end of her life, her wings have worn completely out.
9. Honey bees use all their senses.
A honey bee has scent receptors so precise that she can distinguish between hundreds of types of flowers. Bees can also taste sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. With their touch, they gauge the depth of honeycomb cells. Each hive has its own scent, and each queen has her own scent different from that of the hive.
10. The beehive is a "super organism".
All honey bees work together as a single entity (term is "Hive Mind") and functions together as one whole. A lone bee cannot live on its own outside of the hive for even 24 hours.