- There are three types of bee in a colony – one Queen, approximately 60,000 Workers (which are all female), and about 2,000 Drones (which are all male)
- The Queen lays between 1,500 and 2,000 eggs a day in the peak of season of April, May, and June – more than her own bodyweight! The Workers feed her all day to keep her going.
- Worker bees live for only thirty five days in the summer. They spend the first three weeks working in the hive and move outside to pollen and nectar gathering duties after that.
- Whilst life seems easier for the male Drones, at the end of the summer the Workers bite their wings off and throw them out of the hive. (I thought you said you loved me!!) All bees will always leave the hive to die, if possible.
- The bees keep the temperature in the hive at a constant 34 degrees Centigrade – summer and winter. They produce body heat by flexing their muscles on cold days and fan their wings to keep cool on hot days. Can you imagine – keeping the inside of an old wooden box in the middle of a winter storm at 34 degrees simply by flexing your muscles?
- Honey bees have 5 eyes – one of which can see ultra violet light. Flowers switch on an ultra violet light to show bees that they have nectar ready – thus allowing the bees to visit only those blossoms that are ready for them.
- Bees are brilliant navigators and use the sun and other landmarks to find their way. If a beekeeper moves a hive just a few inches, the bees return to the exactly same spot where the entrance had been and then walk along the hive to its new position.
- Foraging bees perform a special dance to show other bees where to find flowers with the best nectar and pollen.
- Guard (worker) bees sting ONLY to defend the colony – putting themselves in the danger area to defend the rest of the colony. They work hard to drive an invader away before stinging because she is killed by the act of stinging. Only Worker bees sting people, male bees (Drones) can’t sting, and queen bees only ever sting rival queens.
- Honeybees are classed as social insects and live in colonies of approximately 60,000 bees in the summer. The number of bees falls to about 10,000 in the winter. Each bee works in co-operation with others, focused on the good of the whole colony. Recent research suggests that we should regard a colony as a super-organism with each individual bee contributing to the whole colony – in a similar way to the cells in a human body.
- A worker honeybee takes 21 days to grow from an egg to a young bee – going through the phases of egg, larva, and then pupa before emerging as a young bee. She starts working in the hive from the moment she is born and immediately starts on cleaning duties.
- There are 200 types of bees in the UK
- The UK has lost about 97% of its wild flower meadows since the Second World War. The consolidation of farm fields, the move to mono culture crops, and some pesticides have similarly badly effected the foraging opportunities. Recent research has shown that the Honeybees are having to adapt to other types of forage.
- Britain had 146,000 registered beekeepers in the late 1940’s. To-day there are only about 25,000 beekeepers
Remember to tell your friends about honey bees and the wonderful work they do for the planet.