Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes and water. There is almost no culture around the world where honey is not widely appreciated for its taste and amazing benefits. Just as this substance is remarkable so are the creatures that produce it – the honey bees.
1. First evolved in tropical conditions about 30 millions of years ago.
2. Are the only insects that humans raise for food and medicine
3. Honey bees – wild and domestic – account for 80% of all insect pollination.
4. 70 out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by honey bees.
5. Make about 200 beats per second with their wings, creating their famous, distinctive buzz.
6. To make a pound of honey, they need to visit 2,000,000 flowers.
7. The average worker bee produces only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
8. There are two stomachs in a bee. The main stomach is used to collect and digest nectar for food and energy, the other is used to process the nectar into honey and transport it back to the hive.
9. Have 170 odorant receptors that give them an incredible acute sense of smell. This is so precise that it can help them differentiate hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carried pollen or nectar from meters away.
10. In striking contrast with their smell, the researchers found a very low number of gustatory receptors for the sense of taste. There is, however, an explanation: honey bees have a beneficial, non-antagonistic relationship with plants, so plants don’t have to defend themselves with toxins. Since the bees don’t have to detect toxins, they don’t need many gustatory receptors.
11. Although their brain is only about the size of a sesame seed, honey bees have developed sophisticated sensory systems as well as learning and memorizing capacities. These essential mechanisms do not differ drastically from those of vertebrates.
12. Are able to learn and remember the color and shape of flowers that contain nectar and pollen, also how to get to them.
13. Synchronize their behavior with daily floral rhythms, foraging only when nectar and pollen are at their highest levels.
14. Can learn scents or colors in a time-linked process and remember them in a 24-hour cycle.
15. Show the ability to discriminate between two different human faces.
16. Can count up to four objects when they are encountered sequentially during flight.
17. The harder they work – the sounder they sleep! Honey bee foragers are active during the day and sleep during the night moving through three sleep stages. Young bees exhibit sleep behavior consisting of the same stages as observed in foragers yet pass more frequently between the three and stay longer in the lightest sleep stage.
18. They live in highly organized societies, with various bees having very specific roles during their lifetime such as: queen bee, drones, workers, cleaners, undertakers, nurses, builders, temperature controllers, guards, foragers.
19. The honey bees that perform multiple jobs in their lifetime will change their brain chemistry before taking up a new job.
20. A bee colony is known as a super-organism as no single bee can survive on its own.
21. Each colony has a unique scent for members’ identification.
22. Worker bees are the largest population in the colony and are the only bees that most people ever see. These bees are all females but not sexually developed. During chillier seasons worker bees can live for 4 to 9 months, but in the summer, they rarely last longer than six weeks – they literally work themselves to death.
23. The queen bee is the only fertile female in the colony, thus her main role is to lay eggs. She is capable of producing up to 2,000 eggs within a single day and has control over whether she lays male or female eggs. If she uses stored sperm to fertilize the egg, the larva that hatches is female. If the egg is left unfertilized, the larva that hatches is male.
24. The queen bee also has the power to regulate the hive’s activity by producing pheromones that only the bees in the hive can smell. These chemicals keep the female workers sterile and also act as a signal to assure the members of the colony that the queen is alive and all is well in the hive.
25. The queen bee can live for several years and when she dies the hive will start looking for a replacement and feed royal jelly to a developing larva.
26. The royal jelly is made of digested pollen and honey or nectar mixed with a chemical secreted from a gland in a nursing bee’s head. It is loaded with all of the B vitamins.
27. A forager performs a carefully choreographed “waggle” dance when she wants to communicate the locations of new food sources to the hive she. The dance communicates three main things: the direction of the flowers in relation to the sun, the distance and the flower type.
28. In cold weather they regulate the temperature of their hive by vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat. When it’s hot they also use their wings to circulate air or they even use water as a coolant.
29. Only worker bees sting, and only if they are provoked or feel threatened.
30. Excluding people with bee sting allergy, the average adult can withstand more than 1000 stings, although 500 stings could kill a child.
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