Bee | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Bee

Bees are ancient creatures, more than 50 million years old. The first honeybees are thought to have evolved from wasps, which, through a long evolutionary process, switched from animal food to plant food in feeding their young, bringing them nectar and flower pollen. The appearance of insects began to change, and hunting instincts gave way to the need to collect food from flowers and nurture the brood.

At first, bees collected nectar from plants chaotically, but over time, thanks to the same evolution, insects developed a pattern of visiting flowers of the same species. They began to distinguish them by certain characteristics: fragrance, color, shape. Systematic pollination has also affected the diversity of the plant world — bees, unknowingly, have caused the development of flora on our planet.

Fact number one.

The queen mates with the drones on the fly, at about 69 km/h. The uterus mates with several males who die after mating because their reproductive organ remains in the uterus. The uterus has enough sperm from mating for a lifetime (up to 9 years).

Fact number two.

Thanks to bees, there are so many flowers on our planet. The most ancient plants on Earth reproduced perfectly well with spores, like ferns, for example. But with the advent of bees, which took up pollination, flowering plants spread faster.

Fact number three.

Bees make honey with a special technique. It takes about four weeks for the nectar to be transformed into a delicious, healthy honey. How does this happen? Bees remove excess water from the nectar, adding enzymes, special organic acids. And then the honey ripens in cells that are tightly sealed with wax caps.

Fact number four.

Bees have many enemies and «freeloaders», so the entrance to the hive is securely guarded by guards, ready to rush at any moment to uninvited guests. Not a single bee can penetrate into another hive. Each hive has a distinctive smell, undetectable by humans. Each bee keeps that scent in a special recess in its body. When she flies up to the entrance, she opens it and shows her scent to the guards as her passport.

Fact number five.

Bees are among the most organized insects and live in hives. Why are the hive cells hexagonal? In this case it is a matter of pure space optimization. A square cell would not allow the bee easy access to its interior given its morphology. On the other hand, a round cell would not be the optimal structure for a honeycomb, leaving too many empty spaces to fill with wax, which would require more effort. A hexagon is the best way to optimize space in the hive.

Fact number six.

Bee mothers can live for up to six years. Over time, however, their reproductive capacity declines. If a queen bee dies, workers will create a new queen by selecting a young larva from among the newborns and feeding it a special food called «royal jelly.»

Fact number seven.

Bees die when they stick a sting in. The worker bee injects 50% of the venom the moment the sting is poked in, the rest will flow out of her little by little. The sting is saw-shaped, and in most cases the bee cannot retrieve it, in which case it loses some of its vital organs and dies in a few minutes. On the other hand, queen bees have a low sting so they don’t sting, and drones have no sting.

Fact number eight.

One honeybee typically visits about 7,000 flowers a day, and to produce 1 kilogram of honey, bees must visit 4 million flowers. To visit that many flowers, they travel an average distance of 80,000 kilometers. The worker bees collect pollen and nectar to feed the colony. It turns out that plants produce the sweet and delicious nectar that bees love, for the sole purpose of attracting them to their flowers and thus being able to reproduce.

Fact number nine.

Bees are guided by the sun. They use the Sun as a compass to get back to the hive. On cloudy days, when the Sun is hidden behind clouds, they fly around using polarized light thanks to special photoreceptors to find the Sun’s place in the sky.

Fact number ten. It is a mistake to assume that all the bees in the hive fly for nectar. In fact, the number of bees engaged in outside work (flying) is many times less than those that work inside the hive. There is much more work to be done inside the hive than outside. We have to feed the brood, build the honeycomb, receive nectar, etc.  Therefore, bees engaged in outside work are about 70% of the total.

Bee Day is celebrated every year at the same time — May 20. This worldwide holiday owes its appearance to the man who started the development of modern beekeeping — the Slovenian artist and enthusiastic beekeeper Anton Janše.

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