If you’re considering becoming a beekeeper, you’re well aware that there’s no creature quite so remarkable than the humble honey bee. For centuries, humans have raised bees for the long list of benefits they provide — from supplying sweet honey to pollinating the crops, we need to survive.
Because bees are worth celebrating, here are ten honey bee facts you need to know:
Honey Bee Facts
1. The Beehive Houses 3 Types of Bees
Three ranks of honey bees–drones, workers, and the queen–populate the hive.
- Queen – A fertile female, and total boss, the Queen is the colony’s mother–literally.
- Worker -Worker bees are infertile females that take care of the Queen and colony. This includes feeding the queen, the drones, and the brood, as well as maintaining the temperature of the hive.
- Drone – Drones are males that begin life as an unfertilized egg. They have one goal and one goal only — to mate with a virgin queen.
And while the drones live to mate, less than one per every thousand drones actually get the chance to reproduce.
2. Queen Bees Can Lay Up to 1500 Eggs a Day
The Queen, too, lives to create new life. She may produce up to 1,500 eggs each day over the course of her 3-4-year lifespan. Because the queen is busy laying her weight in eggs on a daily basis, she is attended to by worker bees who groom her and keep the hive running.
3. A Queen Can Store a Lifetime Supply of Sperm
Doubling down on the strange reproductive life of bees, here’s one of the weirder honey bee facts out there: queens can store a lifetime of sperm in their bodies. This explains why male drones have such a hard time mating with a virgin queen. One time and she’s set for life.
4. Honey Bees are the Only Insect with an Edible By Product
While there are plenty of cultures that have historically made do with crickets, termites, and even tarantulas, honey bees are the only insect that creates a separate byproduct fit for human consumption.
Not only that, honey never goes bad–making it an interesting food item.
5. We Need Bees to Eat
If any honey bee facts are worth remembering, it’s this one: honey bees play a crucial role in human survival. In the US alone, honey bees are responsible for pollinating a huge percentage of fruits, vegetables, and other crops.
Bees belong to a class of animals and insects called pollinators. Along with butterflies, birds, beetles, and bats (weirdly all “B” animals), bees transfer seeds and pollens from one flower to the next, taking care of the fertilization process so plants can grow and ultimately, provide food.
This pollination process is responsible for roughly 30 percent of the Earth’s crops, and the majority of wild plants. Without bees, seeds would not be spread, resulting in a massive crop die-off.
On top of you, know, fueling our survival, bees play a big role in both the US and global economies.
According to the NRDC, bees are responsible for a whopping $15 billion a year in US crops. Without bees, we wouldn’t have berries, apples, melons, almonds, cucumbers, alfalfa, and more. On top of that, honey bees are also responsible for another $150 million in honey alone.
So, without bees (who are endangered, by the way) our global food basket would take a hit, and the economy would feel some major shockwaves.
6. Bees Keep a Hot Hive
No matter the weather, honeybees like it hot. Inside the hive, bees work to keep the temperature at a balmy 93 degrees Fahrenheit.
During colder months, the bees vibrate their bodies to generate heat. And if temps exceed the 93 degree-threshold, the workers flap their wings to cool things down, like a buzzy, communal fan.
7. Hives Are Crowded
Okay, this is one of the honey bee facts you may already know, beehives are just buzzing with thousands of bees. A particularly populous hive might contain more than 40,000 bees at its peak in later spring or early summer.
8. Bees Can Tell Us Humans Apart
A 2013 study revealed that bees have a special superpower.
We might not be able to tell the difference between individual bees, but the feeling isn’t mutual. While bees don’t share the same perception of the human face as actual humans, they can work through identifying individual faces through a process known as “configural processing.”
This method allows a bee to evaluate each of your features individually and compile them into one singular identity. Essentially, bees view us as puzzles ripe for the solving.
9. Honey Bees Have Five Eyes
Interestingly, honey bees have five eyes. Two are large, compound eyes, while the three additional eyes are smaller. Each eye has but one lens, and work to take in light from multiple directions. Essentially, bees have the ability to use sunlight to for navigation purposes.
The reason for this is, the varied eyes allow bees to navigate easily through their foraging areas, differentiating between color and motion with far more detail than humans can imagine.
10. Honeybees Are the Only Bees That Die After They Sting
If you’re afraid of bees, know that all bees are not created equal. Honeybees are unlikely to sting out of aggression–it’s not in their best interests. Bees die after stinging because the act of stinging causes the stinger to detach from the body, which tears open the abdomen.
Wasps, on the other hand, don’t have the barb, so this suicide mission effect doesn’t happen — which is why wasps often sting multiple times
Considering Becoming a BeeKeeper?
If you’ve gone through all the honey bee facts and want to get up close and personal with a hive of your own, consider reading our resource on how to start a beehive to get you up to speed on exactly how you can become a beekeeper.
At EbeeHQ, we pride ourselves on being an approachable resource for those interested in learning more honey bee facts, as well as how to get started on your own beekeeping journey.