Honey bees, scientifically also known as Apis mellifera, meaning ‘honey-carrying bee’, are vital as pollinators.
10 interesting aspects of the honey bee’s existence that you may not know:
1. A colony of honey bees consists of 20,000 to 60,000 honey bees and one queen.
2. The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man. The golden honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life – enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water and it’s the only food that contains ‘pinocembrin’, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
3. Honey bees have six legs, two compound eyes made up of thousands of tiny lenses (one on each side of the head), three simple eyes on the top of the head, a pair of wings, a nectar pouch, and a stomach. Honey bees have 170 odourant receptors, compared with only 62 in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitoes. Their amazing abilities include recognition of their kind, signals, socially communicating in the hive and odour recognition for finding food.
Also read: The buzz of a swarming infestation
4. Their sense of smell is so precise that it could differentiate hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carries pollen or nectar from metres away.
5. The honey bee’s wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second to make their distinctive buzz. A honey bee can fly for up to 10 kilometres and as fast as 45 kilometres per hour. A hive of bees will fly 145,000 kilometres, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1kg of honey. It takes one ounce of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.
6. A lot of time and effort is put in by the bee to create honey. The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime (six days), which doesn’t sound like much, but yet they’re madly working away to contribute this amount, menial in our eyes. A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers over one collection trip, being ‘as busy as a bee’.
7. The bee’s brain is oval in shape and about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has remarkable capacity to learn and remember things and is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency.
8. Each honey bee colony has an unique odour for members’ identification.
9. Honey bees communicate with one another by dancing. More on their awesome sense of time, communication of distance and direction in ‘the honeybee waggle dance’.
10. During winter, honey bees feed on the honey they collected during the summer months. Forming a tight cluster in their hive, they keep the queen and themselves warm.
Hopefully by learning more about honey’s great creator – the honey bee itself with its highly organised society, how it acts with such intricate co-operation and their amazing bee products, the more admiration and respect this amazing creature will receive from humans.
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