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Bee Facts

“I believe in God only I spell it Nature“….Frank Lloyd Wright

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Honey bees…

  • have the scientific name Apis mellifera which means “honey-carrying bee”
  • Apis mellifera  is not native to North America, it originated in Europe and was brought to North America during European colonization
  • live in bee colonies of about 50,000 individuals in summer and about 20,000 in winter
  • Colonies have: 1 queen (usually), 1000’s of worker bees, all are female and sterile (except the queen), a few male bees or drones, who serve only for reproduction…to mate with a queen. (not the queen of their hive)
  • the queen lays about 200,000 eggs each summer
  • bees pass through occupational stages in their lives depending on their age.  The youngest are house bees responsible for cleaning , comb building, brood and queen care, more mature bees are guard bees and the most senior leave the nest daily to forage for honey, pollen and propolis.  Drones do not forage for food, defend the hive or care for brood.  They are born of infertile eggs, exist to mate with queens of other hives, and are systematically removed from the hive by the female workers during times of dearth or in the fall.

Honey bee with loaded pollen baskets
  • The life expectancy of a queen bee is 2 or more years.  Worker bees born in the summer live about 6 weeks, winter bees more than twice that.
  • There is no real average amount of honey produced per hive; many factors contribute to honey production such as the weather, health of the hive, quality and amount of available forage, strain of bees etc.  Ranges can run from 0-60 gallons per hive.
  • In the course of a worker bees lifetime, she will produce 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey
  • to make one pound of honey, worker bees must fly 55,000 miles and tap 2 million flowering plants
  • bees wings beat 11.400 times per minutes
  • bees flight speed averages 15 mph
  • honey bees have 5 eyes and can perceive movements that are separated by 1/300th of a second.  Humans can perceive movements separated by 1/50th of a second.
  • Bees have complex communications.  They perform “waggle” dances to let other bees know the location of attractive forage areas, new nest locations, water, etc.  The dances are very accurate.
  • female honey bees have a barbed stinger, which anchors the stinger in the victim.  Because of the barb, the bee leaves the stinger and venom pouch behind and soon dies from abdominal rupture.  A European honey-bee stings as a defensive and last resort option. (Africanized honey-bees are much more aggressive). Drones (male bees) do not have stingers
  • Most strains of domestic honey-bees are non-aggressive and are easily handled by experienced beekeepers without extensive protective gear
  • honey bee venom contains almost 20 active substances.  Melitten, the most prevalent substance, is one of the most potent anti-inflamatory agents known.  It is 100 times more potent than hydrocortisol.
  • Bee-stings are reputed to have a therapeutic value in a number of human diseases; arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and other auto-immune diseases.
  • are the most important pollinator of food-crops
  • have been kept by humans for thousands of years, they are the only insect to produce a food for human consumption
  • have been around for over 30 million years…but today, they are currently in the greatest struggle for their lives
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One Comment leave one →
  1. max permalink
    April 18, 2010 5:33 am

    All lovely and enjoyable stuff – thanks!!

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