Bees are the number one pollinators for most plants and crops that humans eat, and the honey they produce is one of the most unique substances on the planet. It seems insane to think that such tiny insects can have such a massive impact on the world as you know it. Dive into these seven facts about honey bees and their beehives that'll surprise you!
All Worker Bees Are Females
Yep, that's right! The bees you see buzzing around plants and flowers are all female worker bees. These girls take care of the hive, produce honey, tend to their queen, and defend the colony. The amount of girl power in every colony is unmatched!
Male Bees Cannot Sting
While you might associate aggression or protective behavior with males, the females prove otherwise in the bee world. Believe it or not, male bees can't sting you. In fact, male bees—or drones—have one responsibility in the bee community: mate with queens during mating flights.
Bees Regulate the Hive's Temperature
No matter what time of the year, you can expect a beehive to be between 93 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Bees are cold-blooded; therefore, the hive’s temperature must remain constant. The bees generate body heat and seal holes with propolis to stay warm in the winter months. In the summer months, they collect water and fan it with their wings until it evaporates into the air to keep the hive cool.
Bees Are Lightweight, but Mighty
Bees are incredibly lightweight. For instance, 4,000 bees weigh a single pound! Although they’re small, they’re mighty, and each one produces about a tablespoon of honey in its lifetime. When you buy raw honey, you should remember that several bees worked very hard to make it.
Queen Bees Don't Make Decisions
Although you might think the queen bee is the colony's leader, she doesn't make any decisions for the hive. The queen is more like the mother of the pack: her primary responsibility is to reproduce and prevent the colony from dying off. In reality, queens lay up to 2,000 eggs each day, which doesn't leave her much time for anything else.
Bees Purposefully Build Hexagon-Shaped Honeycombs
You're probably aware that honeycombs are always hexagons, but you might not know why. Of all the shapes, bees chose the hexagon because it's the most efficient shape in the world. In fact, hexagons are the only shape that bees can use to build without leaving any gaps. Space-saving is imperative inside of a beehive due to limited surface area.
Queen Bees Mate Only Once in Their Lives
You might be wondering how this is possible since queen bees are the only fertile females within the colony, but it's true! Queen bees have a single two-week period for mating near the beginning of their lives, called mating flights. They mate with several males during this time and collect enough sperm in their spermatheca to reproduce for their entire lives.
After learning these seven facts about honey bees and their beehives, you'll probably agree that bees are one of the most fascinating species on the planet. They're the only insect that produces food humans can eat, and the unique, deep connection between humans and bees goes back hundreds of years.