Facts About The Honey Bee

Here are some interesting and fun facts about the honey bee

  • A honey bee has 6 legs, 2 compound eyes (consisting of thousands of tiny lenses), 3 simple eyes on the top of its head, 4 wings, a nectar pouch and a stomach.
  • A honey bee has 170 odorant receptors – a lot when compared to fruit flies and mosquitoes, which have 62 and 79 respectively.  Because of this, their sense of smell is highly developed, and very precise.
  • The maximum speed at which a honey bee can fly is fifteen miles per hour, which is quite slow considering the speed at which many other insects fly.
  • Ideally, honey bees aren’t supposed to fly at all.  Their bodies are considered too big and their wingspan much too small.  But, defying the laws of aerodynamics, they somehow manage to fly up to a maximum of 6 miles.  And it takes just an ounce of honey to fuel its flight around the world.
  • Honey bees flutter their wings 12,000 times a minute (around 200 times a second) just to keep their body afloat in the air.  This is what lends them their distinctive buzzing sound.
  • Honey bees are highly social insects.  A major beehive can contain as many as 60,000 bees.  It needs a large number of bees to keep the work of a hive going; it’s almost like a big organisation, with specialist tasks and duties assigned to specific bees;
    • Nurse bees watch over the young and the eggs,
    • Attendants of the queen bee only feed and bathe her,
    • Guard bees watch the door of the hive,
    • Undertaker bees clean the hive of dead bees,
    • Construction workers continuously build and repair the hive,
    • and foragers bring pollen and nectar from flowers to feed their kin
  • Each beehive should have sufficient honey to sustain its population during the winter season.  An average worker honey bee can only produce on twelfth of a tablespoon of honey during her entire lifespan.
  • That’s why tens of thousands of bees keep working to collect nectar from the flowers, with each bee visiting 50 – 100 flowers during each collection trip.
  • The queen bee just needs to mate once during her lifetime to produce eggs throughout her life.  She can produce as many as 1,500 eggs a day, and up to one million eggs over her lifetime.  The eggs she lays in a single day can sometimes outweigh her!
  • The queen bee mates with drone bees, which live solely for the purpose of fertilising the queen.  The mating ritual for drones is fatal, and they die within hours of mating with the queen.
  • The queen can only survive at a temperature of around 33 degrees Centigrade (93 degrees Fahrenheit).  The workers labour to maintain this temperature inside the hive.  In low temperatures, the bees swarm around inside the hive to keep it warm, and in warmer weather, they fan in cool air to reduce the hive temperature.
  • It is only the worker bees that sting, and then only if they feel threatened.  Once they have stung, they die shortly afterwards.  However, a bee sting is not fatal unless one has an allergy to bee stings.  Otherwise, it is estimated that around 1,100 honey bee stings are required in order to be life-threatening.