So I was meandering around my backyard when I came across a deserted beehive. I noticed it dangling from a tree last summer, swarming with worker bees. Now it is on the ground, slightly shriveled, and abandoned.
Not only that, it has remained intact through all of winter! I don’t know if you have ever shoveled snow, but I will tell you – it is HEAVY. What a beautiful creation by nature. It got me wondering about the incredible insects that made a structure that withstood the weight of (seemingly) one hundred snowstorms.
There are thousands of species of bees. To make it easier to understand, they can be categorized into four main types:
- Honey Bees
- Queen Bee
- Worker Bees
- Drone Bees
- Bumble Bees
- Solitary Bees
- Killer Bees
10 FUN FACTS ABOUT BEES
Did you know…
- Bees have been around for millions of years.
- Bees are a crucial component to crop pollination. Without them, fruits, vegetables, and flowers would not exist.
- Bees pollinate an estimated $20 billion worth of crops and produce about $150 million in honey each year in the United States alone.
- As for honey bees, the queen bee is revered. The worker bees dote on her day and night. She can lay about 1,500 eggs a day, although she doesn’t always, and can control the sex of the eggs.
- Worker bees are sterile females; they colonize in hives and make honey for the queen. They also clean the hive, take care of young bees, collect nectar, and guard the hive. A single beehive contains about 40,000 worker bees.
- Drone bees are male. They are larger than worker bees and there are only a few hundred of them per hive. Their only job is to fertilize the queen bee; they don’t even eat. After they complete the task, the queen bee rips the sexual organs off of the drone bee, effectively killing him in the process (whoa – you go, girl!). She uses the sexual organs to help store the sperm in her body.
- If the queen bee dies, the worker bees select a baby bee and feed it specially made food, “royal honey“, to aid its development to become a fertile queen.
- Most bees can and will sting you, if provoked. However, most male bees do not have stingers at all. Honey bees and bumble bees are less likely to sting, as they are dedicated workers (hence the saying, busy as a bee).
- Female honey bees and killer bees have barbed stingers, so the stinger tears off after one sting.
- Female bumble bees and solitary bees have smooth stingers, so they are able to sting several times.
- Carpenter bees, a species of solitary bees, are characterized by their purplish wings and tendency to nest in wood. They target soft or rotting wood to make their home. Male carpenter bees are very territorial. If they feel threatened, they will fly directly at you, repeatedly, in hopes of scaring you away from their nest; but remember, they do not have stingers and cannot do you any harm.
- Killer bees, also known as Africanized Honey Bees, are aggressive and likely to swarm. They are vicious little creatures, easily provoked, and quite finicky. Even a noise or vibration can set them off, causing 30,000-40,000 angry bees to find something to attack. They are known to stay agitated for up to 24 hours and travel up to a quarter-mile in search of a victim.
SAVE THE BEES
The bee population is diminishing in shocking numbers. This is caused by something called Colony Collapse Disorder, a brutal effect of pesticide use, habitat loss, parasites, and climate change. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “In the United States alone, more than 25 percent of the managed honey bee population has disappeared since 1990… The number of hives in the United States is now at its lowest point in the past 50 years” (Why We Need Bees).
How Can I Help?
- When shopping for seeds and flowers, make sure to ask questions and avoid anything ‘pretreated’.
- Avoid spraying your yard with chemicals that prevent mosquitos, ticks, etc.
- Plant some flowers, vegetables, or let your lawn grow a bit longer before mowing.
- Minimize pest management. If you find a hive, and it has not caused you any trouble, let it be. If removal is necessary, contact Green Shield Certified to find a pest management company near you that is pesticide-free.