Honey Bees not only play an important role in agriculture, but there are many facts about them that you may not know. A further look into this interesting insect reveals not only its uniqueness, but its usefulness as well.
Able to fly at around 15 mph with 11, 400 wing strokes per minute, honey bees travel 55,000 miles to bring us one pound of honey. In order to produce this one pound, a bee will have to visit two million flowers.
These foragers are very efficient, able to carry 80% of their weight in pollen or nectar. Making up 80% of all pollinators, the honey bee must gather ten pounds of nectar to make one pound of honey. And, even though it is a small insect, honey bee pollination has an agricultural value of 15 billion dollars a year in the United States alone.
Honey bees have a unique social system in that there is only one queen per colony. If another queen attempts to arise, they will fight to the death. She mates with nearly 20 drones (the male honey bee with no stinger) only once in her life. She then lays between 1,000 – 3,000 eggs per day. It’s easy to see where the phrase, “busy as a bee” got its start!
Within the hive, an anti-bacterial substance called Propolis, made from sticky plant and tree resin, is used as a glue to help maintain the structure of the hive. In order to find the nectar and water they need, honey bees use several dances to communicate the location of such items. One well-known dance is called the waggle dance.
Beeswax, popular in many commercial and homemade products such as lip balms and candles, is produced from the wax glands in honey bees. It is a very hard wax and doesn’t melt until it reaches a temperature of 148 degrees.
Honey bees are fascinating little creatures that are highly efficient, energetic and very important to our agriculture. Taking the time to learn various facts and trivia about them not only increases our knowledge of honey bees, but our appreciation of them as well.
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