Honey bees are one of the most remarkable insects on the planet, there is no doubt about that. They punch well above their weight, when you compare what they are capable of, with other insects. The way their colony is organised, how each member of the hive plays a small role, to help a colony of about 50,000 bees to function seamlessly led to a bee colony being designated as a superorganism by scientists. 

So what exactly is a worker honey bee, a queen honey bee, is there a king honey bee? Find answers to these questions and much more in this comprehensive and definitive honey bees facts compilation. 

Honey Bee Facts for Children

  • Do honey bees sleep and for how long?  – It is difficult to say definitively whether bees sleep or not. A researcher called Walter Kaiser, in 1993 published his findings into whether bees do sleep. His conclusion was that bees do sleep.  Others researchers/scientists argue that bees do not sleep, they merely stay motionless to preserve energy during the night.
  • How many colours can a honey bee see? –  Honey bees’ vision is better tuned to the blue end of the light spectrum and  ultra violet. This helps bees to see flowers, their main source of nectar and pollen. Flowers reflect a lot of ultraviolet light. Bees do not see the colour red. 
  • Where do honey bees live? Honey bees live in hives (man made). In the wild, they live in the hollow of trees. There are three types of bees in a colony: a queen, the workers and drones. Each plays a different role in the colony. 
  • There are over  270 bee species in Great Britain,  some of them are honey bees.
  • Are Bees insects? Yes. Bees are insects, they have 3 pairs of segmented legs which are attached to their thorax (upper part of the body). That is they have six legs.
  • The female bees in the hive, with the exception of the queen, are called worker bees. They can not lay fertilized eggs, though they do lay unfertilized ones if there is no queen. These unfertilized eggs are what eventually become drones. 
  • How many wings does a bee have? Bees have 2 pairs of wings. The forewing and hindwing, giving them 4 individual wings in total. Like their legs, the wings are attached to their thorax. In flight, bees typically flap their wings around 230 times per seconds. In addition to flight, bees use their wings for thermo-regulation (temperature regulation), nest ventilation, and communication.
  • How many eyes does a bee have? Bees have five eyes in total, as incredible as that may seem. They have two large eyes called the compound eyes, the two eyes have tiny cells that piece together an image of what bees can see. The other three eyes known as simple eyes or occelli which  form a triangle on the head of a bee, help it detect light (but not shape). Occelli helps bees detect when a predator is approaching.
  •  What are male honey bees called? Male honey bees are called drones. They are generally larger than workers (female honey bees). They do not sting, they also do not help in hive maintenance, their only purpose is to mate with a queen. 
  • Do any other insect species apart from honey bees produce food consumed by human beings? No! Honey is the only human food produced by any insect species. 
  • Is honey a healthy food? Yes, it is. It contains antioxidants and vitamins, and it is fat free and cholesterol free. 

UK Specific Honey Bee Facts

  • British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) is the definitive organisation/authority for anything related to beekeeping in the UK.
  • The British black bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), a descendant of the European dark bee, is the only known British honey bee.
  • There are over  270 recorded bee species in Great Britain,  some of them are honey bees.
  • The British national hive design was based on the Langsthorn hive.
  • British beekeepers kept their bees in a skep, which is then slotted into a south facing recess in a garden wall, called bee bole until wooden beehives were introduced in the late 19th century. 
  • The largest number of bee boles in the UK was found at Ganllwyd, near Dolgellau in Wales. During restoration by the national trust in 2011, a total of 46 bee boles were discovered. 
  • Honey bees work all their short lives. Once they hatch, they become nurse bees, graduating to become cleaners, eventually they become guard bees and finally foragers. 
  • Honey bees outnumber the residents of London in the summer months. A situation that is ascribed to an increase in the number of urban beekeepers.  
  • A honey and olive oil preparation that keeps hair healthy and lustrous was created by Queen Anne In the early 1700’s.

General Facts About Honey Bee 

  • Faces – Honeybees are said to recognise and remember human faces
  • Collaboration – There is a video circulating on the internet showing two honey bees working together to open a bottle of fizzy drink. 
  • Honey bees  fly at an average speed of 25km per hour. That is the maximum speed of an Electric Scooter.
  • If a bee loses its stinger, it will die. This is because the bee leaves behind part of its digestive tract along with its stinger after it has stung. The abdominal rupture kills the bee.
  • Honey bees are capable of being trained to detect illnesses in humans. 
  • Honey bees use their long tongues called the proboscis to suck nectar out of a flower. 
  • Workers bees are sometimes called “undertaker bees” because they oversee the removal of dead bees from the hive. 
  • Pinocembrin, a powerful antioxidant, is  found in honey and propolis. 
  • The world’s oldest fermented beverage, mead, is made from fermented honey.  
  • A 2000-year-old jar of honey was found by an explorer in King Tut’s tomb and it was claimed to still taste delicious. This shows honey can last for a very long time.
  • Honey is effective in healing open wounds and combating infections.  It is also an energy booster, it is a source of energy that can help prevent fatigue and boost physical performance. 
  • Worker bees have barbed stinger while queens stinger is smooth and it is mostly used in killing other queens.
  • A worker bee communicates the locations of food and water or a new home through a dance known as “Waggle Dance” or honey bee dance.
  • Honey bees huddle together in a winter cluster in order to keep warm. 
  • A worker bee makes about half to one teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. 
  • Honey bees are the only bees that make honey. Though bumble bees make honey-like substances, it tastes nothing like honey that humans consume. 
  • Bees are so particular about the cleanliness of their hive that they will temporarily leave it  to take a cleansing flight  especially in the cold winter months. 

Amazing Statistical Facts about Honey Bees

  • To make about half a kg ( 1lb)  of honey, bees have to fly over 55,000 miles. 
  • There are more than 300 taste sensors on the tips of the antennae of honey bees. 
  • To make about half a kilogram  of honey,  bees  must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers.
  •  Bees have a special stomach for storing nectar called honey stomac. It  holds around 70 mg of nectar, the approximate weight of the bee.
  • To fuel a bee’s flight around the world, it would take about 1 ounce of honey.  
  • During one foraging  flight from the hive, a single honey bee visits between 50 and 100 flowers. 
  • A small colony of bees needs about 17kg of honey to survive winter. 

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