10 Un-bee-lievable facts about bees
Did I tell you about my new hobby, beekeeping? Read all about it here. But first, read these ten fascinating facts that I learnt at my first ever beekeping workshop.
- Honey is basically bee sick. What happens is the bee ingests nectar from a plant, it goes into a place called the crop in its body, a chemical reaction happens and then honey is the substance that is regurgiated.
- Queen bees are kind of slutty. They go out and get fertilised by 10 to 15 different male bees, then collect all the semen in their body and use it to lay eggs in the hive, up to 2000 each day.
- The women do all the work. Worker bees are always female and they do basically everythin: foraging for nectar, building the honeycomb and producing the honey.
- They only pollinate one type of flower or plant at a time. They’re clever enough to know that they have to deliver the female pollen to the male plant of the same species, otherwise the two won’t procreate.
- Bees can go kamikaze on you. When a bee stings you, it dies. Why? Because the sting is torn out of the bees body along with a pheromone that encourages other bees to sting the same place. If necessary, a bunch of them will die, but ultimately it’s done to protect the hive, from, say, a marauding bear on the hunt for honey.
- A colony of bees is like an organism in and of itself. During winter, the population drops from around 50,000 to 10,000 bees, and those remaining survive on supplies of honey over the cold months, before the population jumps again in spring. A bit like the Hamptons, so I’m told.
- They’re sun worshipers. Bees only like to forage for nectar when it’s warm and dry. They hibernate in winter and positively hate wetness.
- Like humans, bees started out in Africa and spread across the globe from there. In fact, every bee in North America is descended from some that were taken over from Europe by pilgrims on the Mayflower.
- They’ve don’t need Sat Nav. Bees tell each other where to find the best supplies of nectar. By doing something called the waggle dance they can specify exactly where their hive-mates need to go to get some grub.
- They travel a long way. Worker bees fly around 500 miles in their lifetime, and then they die, exhausted, because their little wings have been flapping so hard. Aww.