They’re loud, and their stingers can pinch—and yet, the world is a much better place because honeybees are in it. This is not just because honeybees are our most common pollinator, but also because they are a wonderous animal with bizarre, fascinating abilities. Understanding a few amazing facts about honeybees will give you a new appreciation for these noisy critters.
A Queen Bee Can Lay Thousands of Eggs a Day
Just a week after a queen emerges from her cell, she will go on a “mating flight,” during which she will seek out and mate with over a dozen drones. The variety of drones helps to ensure a biodiverse and healthy hive.
Two days after her mating flight, the queen will begin giving birth to the next brood. On an average day, a queen can lay over a thousand eggs, and she will likely give birth to about a million before she dies.
Honeybees Communicate Through Complex Codes
Worker bees have a difficult, social job. They must go out into the world, find flowers, determine their nutritional value, and report their findings to other bees. To deliver this communication, honeybees have a complicated choreographed dance that they perform for each other.
Of all the amazing facts about honeybees, this might be the most surprising. Their silent form of communication is one of the most evolved language patterns found in nature, thought to be second only to primates.
Honeybees Go Above and Beyond for Cleanliness
Although hives may appear messy and confusing, they are actually sanitary homes meant to protect the health of their residents. With the exception of the queen, every honeybee will defecate outside the hive. When the queen does defecate, the bees that groom and serve her will remove the waste from the hive themselves.
Bees are so dedicated to keeping their homes clean that they will actually leave the hive when it’s time for them to die. This helps protect the other bees from clutter and disease.
A Worker Bee Will Produce Less Than a Teaspoon of Honey in Their Lifetime
Whereas the queen bee’s job involves a staggeringly high amount of output, worker bees will produce very little raw and unfiltered honey before they die. In fact, the typical worker bee will make less than 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in their entire life. Because a hive will need dozens of pounds of honey to survive the winter, it truly requires a massive team effort for all the honeybees to reach their goal.