20 Interesting Facts about Honeybees

Author: Meera, June 9, 2014


If your fruit trees, berries, and flowers are flourishing, you can be assured that bees have been busy in your garden. If you are a gardener who lives near a beekeeper, consider yourself really fortunate. Eighty percent of pollination is attributed to bees. Without these industrious little insects, Earth’s plant diversity would be in jeopardy. Here are some otherĀ  interesting facts about honeybees (apis mellifera).




Worker honeybees drinking water on a hot day

Worker honeybees drinking water on a hot day





1. The worker honeybees are sterile females. The workers keep the hive clean, serve as nursemaids to the babies, forage for food, scout for new locations, stand guard at the hive entrance, and care for the queen.

2. The lifespan of a worker bee is 6 to 8 weeks; the queen’s lifespan can stretch to 3 years.

3. In her short lifetime, an average worker bee will produce about 1 1/2 teaspoons of honey.

4. A honeybee will travel about six miles from its hive to forage on nectar- or pollen-rich plants.

5. Honeybees never sleep.

6. During one collection flight, a honeybee will visit between 50 and 100 flowers.




Queen cell that houses the queen who is feed royal jelly until she emerges

Queen cell that houses the honeybee queen who is fed royal jelly





7. A honeybee queen is made or created (as opposed to being born). Worker bees secrete royal jelly through the glands in their heads (hypopharynx and mandibular) to feed the larvae. Rich in vitamins and nutrients, the royal jelly may also contain a single protein known as royalactin and scientists believe this ingredient ensures the larva becomes a queen.

8. Newly emerged queens will fight to the death, leaving only one to rule the hive. The honeybee queen lays around 2,000 eggs. These become fully developed in 21 days.

9. The queen doesn’t leave the hive. Her job is to mate with the drones, produce eggs, and serve as matriarch of the colony.




10. Drones are bigger than the worker bees but smaller than the queen and have rear-ends that are more blunted than round.

11. The drone’s sole purpose is to mate with the queen, which he does in the air. Drones die during mating.

12. Drones do not have stingers unlike the worker bees who have stingers with bee venom.

13. Drones are kicked out of the colony in the autumn when mating season in over because the honey reserves are needed to support the colony’s queen and workers through the winter. The drones are expendable since they don’t forage for food, make honeycomb or honey, care for the babies, clean the hive, or otherwise contribute to the colony.




Swarming is the method by which honeybees expand their colonies

Swarms often land in trees; swarming is the method by which honeybees expand their colonies





14. Honeybees communicate with each other through chemical signals. When there is a predator present, the worker bees release a pherome that communicates to her hive mates the need to attack.

15. The primary swarm (with the old queen) happens in spring and is a colony in transition. Swarming is the method by which the bees leave the hive en masse to establish a new colony. Swarming usually occurs during a two-week period in spring on warm days.

16. A swarm can include 10,000 bees but they are not in attack mode; they are preparing to move to a new home with their queen and are carrying the honey they need for the trip in their stomachs.

17. Honeybee colonies have been around for millions of years. There are fossils of honeybees in European deposits dating back 23 to 56 million years ago.




18. Honeybees are the only insects that produce a product that humans eat. Honey is highly nutritious and has many health benefits.

19. Honey never goes bad; honey was found in King Tut’s tomb.

20. It takes more than 500 honeybees collecting pollen from 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.


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