The bee post

Sometimes, people ask me why I am so fascinated by bees. They see that I take pictures of bees and that I actively seek out bees. Usually, my bee portraits are of bumblebees, because they actually stick around to be photographed.

Here are some interesting facts about honeybees.

  • Bees are social insects and bee society has structure. Each bee has a role to play. In fact, there are three roles: queen, worker, and drone. 
  • The Queen stays in the hive and her main function is to lay eggs. She can lay about 1,500 eggs a day. She can communicate with the hive via a scent called pheromones.
  • Worker bees are all females. They are responsible for all of the work in the hive and outside of the hive. There are two types of worker bees: house bees and field bees. House bees do everything that needs to be done inside a bee hive, including feeding baby bees, organizing the nectar and pollen, etc. They keep the hive clean and, when it’s hot, they keep the hive cool and comfortable for the queen. The field bees go out into the wide world. We see field bees pollinating plants. They bring nectar back to the hive. Field bees have two stomachs: one for their own nutrition and the other for storing nectar so that they can carry it back to the hive. Worker bees are able to sting but, if they sting, they will die.
  • Drones are males. Their main role in life is to mate with a queen. They have no stingers.

  • When beekeepers collect honey for human use, they are collecting the excess. Honeybees produce more honey than they need to support a hive. A hive is usually comprised of 50,000 to 80,000 bees. It is a city! It requires 556 worker bees to gather a pound of honey.
  • Besides pheromones, bees also use bee dances to communicate.
  • Honey bees produce five products: honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis, and royal jelly. Royal jelly is food for the queen.
  • Honey comes in different colors and flavors, based on where the nectar was gathered.

  • Bumblebees are different than honey bees for several reasons.
  • Bumblebees collect nectar and pollen from flowering plants. They do not produce honey. As pollinators, they have great value.
  • Bumblebees can be large. The bomba dahlbomii, of the Patagonia area of Chile and Argentina, is so big that is has been called a “flying mouse.” It is two to three times larger than North American bumblebees. It is colorful and it has even been described as “charismatic.” Unfortunately, these gorgeous bees are on the brink of extinction.
  • When bumblebees sting, they do not die. Technically, they could sting more than once. Fortunately, bumblebees are not aggressive. They only sting if their nest is under attack or if they have been injured.
  • Bumblebees hibernate underground. They live in colonies of 50 to 400 bees.
  • Bees, whether they are honey bees or bumblebees, need their nutrition and they need it often because they have fast metabolisms. 
And… when you go to a picnic… bees like sweet stuff, such as soft drinks. Please do not drink your soft drink directly out of a can. Pour it into a clear cup, preferably one with a lid and straw. Then you can see what’s gotten into your cup before you drink your beverage. A swallowed bee is not a happy bee, and you’re likely to feel the effects of the bee’s unhappiness. Stay safe and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

Do you have any bee stories to share?

5 thoughts on “The bee post”

  1. I had no idea there were bees that don't have a stinger! My only bee stories are about being stung as a child, unfortunately. But there was a brief time in my adult life when using local honey in my tea healed my allergies. And I've always wondered why honey can have different flavors. I can't remember which one I like, and now, have grown used to the taste of cane sugar as a sweetener. Which bad, because my allergies are a year-round companion. Thanks for this informative post!

  2. Here is Australia we have native stingless bees. Sadly most of us, like Jeanine are familiar with the sting of a bee, and so are hesitant to find out more about them. I have an allergy to bee stings too, so, despite loving what they do, I freak out a bit when they come near me. Luckily no stings for many years now. Interesting post.

  3. there are as many as 4,000 species of native bee's in north america, many of which can be found in the Great Lakes region.
    Honeybee's are not native bees. One bee, the common American Bumblebee has had a population reduction of 95% in the last four years. We still have them here in Western New York!
    Nice blog Alice!

  4. I grow lots of weeds on purpose in my little bit of suburban Buffalo backyard. LOADS of honeybees when milkweed was at its peak, more bumblebees shortly after. Other wasp tupelo bees as well. Trying to give names to the bees(or flies that look like bees) I have been growing for the butterflies, but bees were here all of June when almost no butterflies this year.

    Also, don't take a soda can with you on a golf cart….got stung on the roof of my mouth back on the '90's.

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