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10 AMAZING FACTS about honey bees!

Why not tell your friends?

Photo: Jenny Rogers

Photo: Jenny Rogers

1. Honey bees are super-important pollinators for plants. This means that they help plants produce reproduce! How do bees do this? They transfer pollen between the male and female parts of flowers so that plants can grow seeds and fruits.

2. Honey bees live in large groups called colonies. Their home is usually a hive (though they prefer a hollow tree!). Within the colony there are 3 types of honey bee:

  • Queen: a large female bee. There is only one queen in the hive. Her job is to lay eggs that will grow to become the next generation of honey bees. The queen also produces pheromones that guide the behaviour of the other bees.
  • Workers: these are all female. They do not usually lay eggs. Their job is to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), produce wax and build honeycomb, store the honey and pollen and protect the colony. They also feed the larvae (young, developing bees) and circulate air by fanning their wings. A lot of work!
  • Drones: these are male bees. Their only job is to mate with new queens. Several hundred drones live in the hive in spring and summer. At the end of summer the drones are thrown out.

3. A bee’s food comes from flowers. Bees collect nectar (a sweet sugary liquid) and pollen (a powdery substance) from flowers. Nectar is their carbohydrate food, pollen their protein.

4. Why do bees make honey? Bees collect nectar from flowers, mix it with enzymes from their bodies, store it in honeycomb cells then turn it into honey by fanning their wings to remove some of the water and. The honey stores are their winter larder!

5. The worker bees can make a new queen by selecting a young larva and feeding it a special food called royal jelly. This allows the larva to grow into a new queen bee.

bonny bee6. Honey bees are GREAT flyers! They can fly at a speed of 25km (15miles) per hour. They can beat their wings really fast – at 200 beats per second!

7. Bees have an AMAZING sense of smell! – each bee has 170 odorant receptors! They use this to recognise bees from their own colony, to communicate within the hive and to search out different types of flowers.

8. A worker bee, born in spring or summer, lives for around 5-6 weeks. Her autumn born sisters live for 6 months! A queen bee can live for 5-6 years.

9. A queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day (more than her own weight in eggs!).

10. A worker bee can carry only enough nectar to cover a pinhead. She has to work her whole life to make just one 12th of a teaspoon of honey!

11. Honey bees tell each other where to find flowers by dancing! To share information about where to find the best source of food, worker bees dance – either a round dance or a waggle dance with the bee’s body showing the direction to go and how far it is – and this in the darkness of the hive!

Yes that was 11 amazing facts about Honey Bees!

With thanks to National Geographic for Kids.