Earth Science

Amazing Facts About the Honey Bee

Amazing Facts About the Honey Bee

Here in this gallery you will find lots of interesting things about honey bees. They are more than just occupants of their own hives and the source of our honey. Honey bees have amazing, extraordinary abilities, and they can also be like us humans in a way. How is that so? Check out this gallery to find out!

1. Honeybees have been around for millions of years

Many types and species of flowers have evolved because of the bees’ pollinating efforts.


2. Honey bees are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators.

Honey bees are scientifically known as Apis mellifera, which means “honey-carrying bees.” They are very good pollinators. Know why? Although many plants rely on wind to pollinate their flowers, or others are self-pollinating, a majority of plants still need these bees to provide pollination.

The honey bees’ hairy bodies catch pollens and carry them as they go from flower to flower. They need huge amounts of nectar and pollen to feed their young, so they visit the flowers on a regular basis in order to obtain these foods. In this manner, bees spend collecting them in one species of plant at a time and for this reason, they serve as good pollinators. The bees’ body size enables them to pollinate flowers of different species. They help to preserve and increase the numbers of trees and plants, thus spreading vegetation. That’s why honey bees are very important to our environment.

3. They work harder than the busiest people around

If you work hard for the money, these bees work way a lot harder for the honey.. and then some. In order to make just one kilogram of honey, honey bees have to make approximately 10 million visits to the flowers in order to collect nectar. The 10 million visits these bees make would cover a total distance of ten trips around the world. One honey bee visits

These honey bees practically put their whole lives to work — they toil non-stop up until their last breaths, literally. During the colder seasons, worker bees can live up to nine months. However, during the warmer seaons, they rarely last up to six weeks. If you consider yourself “busy as a bee,” you may find out that you’re not that busy as these bees!


Honey bees' brain chemistry

4. Honey bees’ brain chemistry

Bees are made by nature to do certain responsibilities and tasks. Scout bees are wired to leave the hive to search for new sources of food and then relay that inforation to with the forager bees. Solider bees, which are bigger and stronger compared to regular bees, serve as security guards to their colony. A small percentage of middle-aged bees become undertakers, whose job is to remove dead and dying bees from the hive to prevent the spread of diseases.

Regular honey bees are perhaps the most amazing and incredible in this bunch. Before regular bees begin one of the many different jobs they will perform over the course of their lifetime, they change their brain chemistry before taking up a new job.


Their sting can kill HIV
5. Their sting can kill HIV

A melittin, a toxin in bee venom, may prevent human immuno-deficiency virus or HIV. Recent research revealed that melittin was found to be effective in killing HIV by destroying the virus’ double-layer protective envelope. Certain nanoparticles carry melittin to do such task, but the melittin will just bounce off normal cells (which are bigger in size) and leave them unharmed. Possible applications of melittin may include a vaginal gel to prevent HIV as well as intravenous treatments for existing HIV infections.

6. Amazing receptors

Honey bees have highly sensitive olfactory receptors — they have 170 of them, compared to 62 receptors in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitoes. The honey bees’ amazing olfactory capabilities include recognition signals among relatives, social communication inside and around the hive, and odor recognition for finding food. In fact, the bees’ exceptional and precise sense of smell enables them to differentiate hundreds of various flowers. They can also help them detect whether a flower has pollen or nectar even from several miles away.

7. The honey bee’s wing stroke

A honey bee’s wings move incredibly rapidly that even studying them how fast their wings flutter proves to be quite difficult. However, scientists estimate that a honey bee’s wing stroke has 200 beats per second, thus making their distinctive buzz.

A honey bee is surely an incredibly fast flier, flying up to six miles and as fast as 15 mph.


The life of a queen bee
8. The life of a Queen Bee

Although the name might imply it and despite its bigger size, the queen bee doesn’t directly control the hive. Its sole function is to fill the hive with eggs. A queen bee can live up to five years. She is busiest during the summer months and when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, she can lay up to 2500 eggs a day.

The queen has the ability to control the sex of the eggs she lays. She lays fertilized or unfertilized eggs, depending on the width of the cell. If the eggs are fertilized, the larva that hatches is a female, and if the egg is left unfertilized the larva hatches is the male. So in other words, female bees acquired their genes from their mothers and fathers while the male bees inherit their genes only from their mothers.


Time-defying brains
9. Time-defying brains

When an aging bee perform tasks that are usually reserved for the younger bees, their brain stops aging. In fact, their brains ages in reverse! Scientists believe that this discovery can help humans delay the onset of dementia.

10. Honey bees can recognize human faces

If you’ve ever felt that if a bee was targeting and chasing you — and only you — chances are you are correct. Studies show that honeybees have the ability to make out individual faces just like humans do. Even more amazingly, bees also use the same methods humans do to do this. They take parts of the face — eyes, eyebrows, lips and ears — and gather the information together to “form” the whole face. This method is called “configular processing,” which might give helpful clues to computer scientists to improve recognition technology. Wasps also has this face recognition ability as well.


11. Bees have personalities and feelings

Researchers at the University of Illinois found out that bees have individual personalities. For instance, some bees are real workers, while some are shirkers. Other bees are thrill-seekers looking for new adventure while some prefer just to hang out around the hive. Some bees are timid, while others have somewhat a pessimistic outlook. This goes on to show that bees do have feelings and emotions.


They have Viking-like supervision
12.  They have Viking-like supervision

Bees use the sun as a compass. But when it’s cloudy, there’s a backup—they navigate by polarized light, using special photoreceptors to find the sun’s place in the sky. The Vikings may have used a similar system: On sunny days, they navigated with sundials, but on cloudy days, sunstones—chunks of calcite that act like a Polaroid filter—helped them stay on course.


Nature’s most economical builders
13.  Nature’s most economical builders

The hexagonal comb of the honey bee has been studied and admired since the ancient times. Scientists and great minds such as Marcus Terentius Varro, Galileo Galilei, Pappus, and Thomas Hales mused over the level of efficiency with which honey bees could achieve such angles as those found in the hexagonal designs of their honeycomb. Not only honeycombs are one of nature’s most efficient structures — they also have exact angles, making them perfectly-shaped hexagons.


Can help us catch serial killers

14. Can help us catch serial killers

Bees even help police close in on serial killers. You might think it’s far-fetched, but bees and serial killers have something in common: neither one of them would like to give away their location and both tend to stay close to home. Serial killers commit their crimes near or their place of residence, but far enough that the neighbors won’t catch them or at least get suspcious. In the same manner, bees collect pollen from the flowers near their hives but far enough so that the predators can’t find the hive.

Bees also leave a “buffer zone” around their hives to prevent predators from finding them. To understand how this works, police and scientists observed the different types of behavior among bees that could be used to enhance algorithms used by the police. Their research led to improved computer models that the police use to catch serial killers.


They can solve complex mathematical problems
15.  They can solve complex mathematical problems

Bees seem to have effectively solved what mathematicians refer to as the “Traveling Salesman Problem”, and so far are the only animals to achieve this.

In the “Traveling Salesman Problem,” a person must find the shortest route that will enable him to visit on all certain numbers of locations on his route. For instance, you are doing errands and have to visit five stores in five different and separate locations. The problem is how are you going to visit all five in the shortest route possible? For bees, they have it easy — no computer assistance needed. Scientists have discovered that bees learn to fly the shortest route possible between flowers, even if they find out the flowers in different order. They have to link hundreds of flowers in a manner that would save them travel time and distance as well as to conserve energy, and still manage to find their way back home. This is no mean feat for such creatures whose brains are the size of a grass seed!

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