Bees are among the most fascinating creatures in our world, playing an essential role in maintaining ecological equilibrium. Their role has long been studied for scientific discovery and historical relevance.
Female scout bees typically use their signature “waggle dance” to locate potential nest sites, and return with glowing reports on any that seem promising. The more enthusiastic their dance is, the better its prospects!
1. Bees Have Five Eyes
Honey bees possess remarkable eyesight despite their diminutive size, possessing five eyes: two large compound eyes on either side of their heads and three simple eyes (or ocelli). Their compound eyes contain thousands of individual lenses known as facets that work together to form an image.
Bees possess an extraordinary sense of vision that allows them to perceive colors, movement and shapes with pinpoint accuracy – helping them forage for pollen and locate their hives with great ease. Their two large eyes also help them measure light intensity accurately, enabling them to travel at daylight without running into natural obstacles or predators.
The three ocelli, however, were designed not for imaging but for detecting polarizing patterns in sunlight. These dome-shaped eyes with single lenses detect ultraviolet light that humans cannot see; bees rely on these domes as part of their sense of sight to navigate in low light conditions or track approaching predators or locate flowers with UV signatures.
bees’ front legs feature comb-like hairs with which they can remove dust and dirt from their eyes, while their hind legs contain pollen baskets with which they brush pollen off plants onto it for later collection by the hive. These features prove particularly helpful during wintertime when bees must forage for food amid barren branches and trees – their five eyes and powerful color vision (5 times faster than ours!) enable efficient searching for nectar-bearing plants needed for honey production.
2. Bees Have a Higher Sense of Smell
Bees possess an extraordinary sense of smell that surpasses that of even dogs – it enables them to locate pollen sources that may otherwise be hard-to-reach and locate new hives, and also distinguishes honey and nectar (by sensing proteins).
Bees possess 170 odorant receptors. Bees can detect salts, sourness and bitterness for taste – however they tend to be less sensitive to sugar’s flavors than they once were. Bees use their antennae as measuring tools while building honeycombs or even during dance performances – providing another form of communication via touch.
Worker bees feed on nectar and pollen, transform it into honey, then store it in wax hives they build themselves hexagon by hexagon. They build comb and defend against pests by removing dead bees, cleaning out their nest, defending against predators and keeping it tidy. Meanwhile, queen bees lay eggs while creating laws – known as pheromones – to govern both their hive and its population.
Honey bees don’t sleep! Instead, they spend their nights motionlessly, conserving energy for the following day’s activities. Bees are responsible for many delicious products we enjoy today – from King Tut’s tomb honey to mead – all thanks to honey bees. A single worker bee can collect and transport one pound of pollen, honey, or other nutrients between flowers over six to eight weeks! They fly up to 12 MPH while carrying this weight while flapping its wings 11,000 times every minute while flap its wings 11,000 times per minute creating that iconic buzzing sound!
3. Bees Have 1100 Stings
Bee venom contains over one hundred minute neurotoxins that can cause pain, swelling and even death in its victims. Furthermore, its poisonous stinger sting can kill plants and other insects with equal efficiency; indeed ounce for ounce, honey bee venom is more deadly than cobra venom!
Bees can travel over 55,000 miles to produce one pound of honey, visiting over 2 million flowers along their journey. Bees have even been known to mate up to 45 times during their lives!
Honey bees communicate through dance. Each bee can perform the waggle dance to inform its hive where food may be found; this dance consists of two parts — the waggle run and return run — whereby bees shake their abdomens while performing the former in order to simulate an 8 figure pattern, before turning right and going around back, repeating this sequence as necessary.
Bees use dances and the sound made by their wings being beat 11,400 times per minute to communicate the temperature within their hives, and can keep cool by fanning their wings to keep air circulating through them.
Worker bees use pollen baskets known as corbiculae on their outer hind legs to gather and store pollen, then transfer it directly into their bodies for digestion or honey production. They have two stomachs for food storage purposes while their antennae contain over 300 taste receptors while their brain measures roughly the size of a sesame seed.
There are three distinct species of bees in a hive: queen, workers and drones. The queen bee is the largest one and can lay up to 2,000 eggs daily; she produces all the honey in the hive and serves as the sole one that can sting; workers and drones serve no other functions within the colony but are nonetheless responsible for contributing honey production; worker drones do not possess this capability and thus remain non-stinging members of their colonies.
4. Bees Have 20,000 Species
People usually picture fuzzy bumblebees or honey bees buzzing from flower to flower, but these examples only represent a tiny portion of the more than 20,000 species found throughout the world.
Bees in their hive feed on pollen, nectar and other plant material from flowers before turning it into food for their young and themselves. Bees use saliva as an aid in digesting complex proteins and starches they find in food they collect; the resultant liquid is then stored in hexagon-shaped cells made of beeswax to be turned into honey.
Bees possess more than 300 taste receptors on their antennae, enabling them to detect odors 50 times stronger than humans can. Each hive has its own signature scent used to identify members within its colony. Bees have two stomachs – one for eating nectar and another storing nectar; their eyes can detect polarized light that allows them to see through clouds or obstructions with ease.
Workers feature barbed stingers while queens use smooth ones; regardless, both types can withstand being stung and continue their duties, although only queens have enough eggs in a day to lay more than 2000.
Queen bees serve as the leaders of bee colonies, responsible for feeding their brood and protecting the hive from danger. She also ensures they stay warm through winter by cuddling closer together for warmth.
5. Bees Have a Lifespan of 6-8 Weeks
Honey bees live short lives and fulfill a variety of roles within their hives. There are two female castes – workers and queens – as well as male drones that play different roles within the colony. Some species live solitary lives while others form large colonies with distinct roles and responsibilities for each member.
A worker bee typically only lives six weeks, during which it produces approximately one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey and visits up to 100 flowers for pollen collections in one single collection trip – as well as flapping its wings 12,000 times per minute, creating the distinctive buzz you hear.
Bees carry up to 80% of their own body weight on their hind legs when collecting pollen from flowers, using structures called pollen baskets or corbiculas – these comb-like structures hang off of each hind leg and contain several tiny openings for collecting pollen granules before being returned back to their hives and dumped into nectar stomachs.
Bees possess brains the size of sesame seeds and contain over 300 taste receptors on their antennae, while their stomachs are divided – one for eating nectar-rich nectar, while one stores nectar which will ultimately become honey.
Bees are highly organized creatures, taking great pride in creating their hives from hexagon to hexagon. If something disturbs their home hive – such as dead bees or pesticide on plants – workers will perform a shake dance alerting other bees so it can be cleaned before disease spreads further.