• Jessica Evans

8 weird things about bees

If you haven’t noticed, I’m on a bee tirade. They’re wonderful little creatures and they do so much for us, but how much do you really know about them? From nail polish, to genital explosion, here are some un-BEE-lievable (it had to happen) facts about these weird insects for the next time you feel like flaunting your general knowledge. Enjoy!

1. One teaspoon of honey is the life work of 60 bees

South African worker bees generally live for about four to eight weeks. Queens can live up to three years! Worker bees forage their whole lives. On a warm day, bees can spend up to 14 hours foraging! Four or five weeks of that, times 60, all for one teaspoon of that liquid gold.

Photo by Danika Perkinson on Unsplash.

2. A healthy natural hive can house up to 50 000 bees

In nature, hives mature after about four months of building. Once, mature, they can maintain their size or keep growing for ever. Normally, cultivated hives have a few more bees than natural ones, with cultivated hives having up to 60 000 bees.

Photo by Rowan Heuval on Unsplash.

3. We need bees for 80% of our crops

If that number doesn’t quite do it for you, that’s one in every three bites of food. Crops that rely on bees for pollination include coffee and chocolate (all the important stuff), nuts, and fruit – avocados, tomatoes, citrus, apples, berries – the list goes on.

Photo by Tina Guina on Unsplash.

4. They can control the temperature of their hive

That’s right. Bees are their own aircon. They generate heat by vibrating their flight muscles. They also circulate air to help draw in cool air or push out warm air. On particularly hot days, you can spot fanning bees at the entrance to a hive, pushing in cool air.

Photo by Massimiliano Letella on Unsplash.

5. Honey is bee vomit

It’s a bit less gross than it sounds. Bees make honey to provide them with energy, using it as food for the hive. Honey bees have designated honey stomachs which turn nectar into honey by adding enzymes to it. Forager bees give house bees nectar, and the house bees put it in the cells. House bees continue to re-ingest the nectar-honey stuff to incorporate enzymes into it, and honeyfy it.

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash.

6. They hate nail polish

Nail polish, along with freshly cut grass, has a certain smell that contains a compound similar to the attack pheromone. This compound signals the bees to become defensive and more likely to sting.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash.

7. Genital explosion

Sounds lit, right? Drone bees are the only male bees in the hive. Their job is to mate with the queen when the time comes. While other bees live for around four weeks, drones only survive until mating. When mating with the queen, the drone’s genitals pop off and remain attached to her while he dies. You could say… they go out with a bang.

Photo by Thomas Stephan on Unsplash.

8. They do a lil dance when they get back home

On the top of their abdomens, bees have a gland called the Nasonov gland. When they get back to the hive, they expose the gland to the air to release a scent that signals to other bees that this is home. It helps bees that are still foraging reorient themselves when they need to come home.

When bees expose this gland, they stick their lil stripey bums up in the air and fan their wings. How cute

When it comes down to it, bees are immensely complex creatures with unmatched ecological importance. And while they are super cool, they are super important, and we should all do what we can to conserve them.

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©2018 by Bite-sized Sci | Jessica Evans