September 1, 2014

Honey Bee Trivia

This is a page of interesting honey bee facts and trivia. It relates to how the bee makes for a better world and what responsibilities they have for their own survival. If your not sure of the vocabulary or terminology, see our Bee Glossary.

Did You Know….

  • The honey bee is the State of Maine’s Official Insect.
  • The United States has an estimated 211,600 beekeepers.
  • Honeybees represent a highly organized society, with various bees having very specific roles during their lifetime. Such as, some bees are nurses, guards, grocers, housekeepers, construction workers, royal attendants, undertakers, foragers, scouts, etc.
  • Honey bees are not native to the USA. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers.
  • American Indians called honey bees the “White Man’s Fly” because they were brought to North America by colonists.
  • Bees have been producing honey for at least 100 million years.
  • Ancient Greeks minted coins with bees on them.

    Ancient Greeks minted coins with bees on them.

    The ancient Greeks minted coins with bees on them.

  • September is National Honey Month.
  • Utah is known as the beehive state.
  • Honeybees are the only insects that produce food for humans.
  • Did you know honey bees have 5 eyes?
  • When a Honey bee loses its stinger it dies.
  • There are about 9 different known species of bees that make honey.
  • A honey bee can fly up to 15 miles per hour.
  • Honeybees have 4 wings.
  • The honeybee’s wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.
  • Worker honey bees weigh about a tenth of a gram. Beekeepers who purchase bees buy them by the pound. There are on an average about 3500 bees in a pound.
  • Workers are usually between ½ to 5/8 inch long. Queens and Drones are longer.
  • The queen space is 5/32 if an inch. Workers can pass through the space, but queens can not.
  • The average worker honey bee makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  • To make one pound of honey, honey bees must tap 2,000,000 flowers.
  • A honey bee visits between 50-100 flowers during one collection trip.
  • A hive of honey bees must fly over 55,000 miles to bring in one pound of honey.
  • It would take about one ounce (two tablespoons) of honey to fuel a honey bee’s flight around the world.
  • Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water.
  • In biblical days, John the Baptist lived on a diet of wild locust honey.
  • Due to the high level of fructose, honey is 25% sweeter than table sugar.
  • Honey is one of the oldest foods in existence. It was found in the tomb of King Tut and was still edible since honey never spoils.
  • One antioxidant called “pinocembrin” is only found in honey.
  • Honey is hydroscopic and has antibacterial qualities. Eating local honey can fend off allergies.
  • Honey has the ability to attract and absorb moisture, which makes it remarkably soothing for minor burns and helps to prevent scarring.
  • Honey speeds the healing of open wounds and also combats infection.
  • Honey contains vitamins and antioxidants, but is fat free, cholesterol free, and sodium free.
  • Modern science now acknowledges honey as an anti-microbial agent, which means it deters the growth of certain types of bacteria, yeast and molds.
  • Honey is nature’s energy booster! It provides a concentrated energy source that helps prevent fatigue and can boost athletic performance.
  • Honey supplies 2 stages of energy. The glucose in honey is
    absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost. The fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy.
  • For years, opera singers have used honey to boost their energy and soothe their throats before performances.
  • Over 300 varieties of honey are produced annually in the U.S. alone, the flavor and color of which are largely determined by the flower from which the nectar is gathered.
  • The U.S. per capita consumption of honey is 1.31 pounds.
  • To make one pound of honey, honeybees must gather 10 pounds of nectar.
  • During the summer, the typical honey bee colony contains between 30,000 to 60,000 bees.
  • Honeybees do not die out over the winter. They feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months and patiently wait for spring.
  • Bees maintain a temperature of 92-93 degrees Fahrenheit in their central brood nest regardless of whether the outside temperature is 110 or – 40 degrees.
  • In the cold winter months, bees will leave the hive only to take a short cleansing flight. They are fastidious about the cleanliness of their hive.
  • A flying worker honey bee can carry a load of nectar or pollen which is equal to 80% of her own weight.
  • The brain of a worker honey bee is about a cubic
    millimeter but has the densest neuropile tissue of any animal.
  • Honey bees account for 80% of all insect pollination. Without such pollination, we would see a significant decrease in the yield of fruits and vegetables.
  • Honey bees collect approximately 66 lbs of pollen per year, per hive.
  • Pollen is one of the richest and purest natural foods, consisting of up to 35% protein, 10% sugars, carbohydrates, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins A (carotenes), B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinic acid), B5 (panothenic acid), C (ascorbic acid), H (biotin), and R (rutine).
  • One-third of our diet relies on honey bee pollination.
  • A Cornell University paper released in 2000 concluded that the direct value of honeybee pollination to U.S. agriculture is $14.6 billion annually.
  • Honey bees communicate through a series of “dances” and use the sun as a reference point to communicate to other bees the angle of flight to be followed to arrive at newly discovered nectar-bearing flowers.
  • Honey bees are not aggressive by nature, and will not sting unless protecting their hive from an intruder or are unduly provoked.
  • A honey bee can only sting a person once and then it dies because its stinger is ripped out during the stinging process.
  • Bees are flying insects, and like all insects they have six legs and three body parts. The head, thorax and the abdomen.
  • The queen bee can live for several years. Worker bees live for 6 weeks during the busy summer, and for 4-9 months during the winter months.
  • A healthy Honey bee Queen can lay 2000 eggs a day.
  • Queens can lay eggs at a rate of 5 or 6 a minute. Between 175,000-200,000 eggs are laid per year.
  • The queen mates while in flight, called a mating flight.
  • The Queen mates with 5 to as many as 45 different Drones on her mating flights.
  • The queen stores the sperm from these matings in her spermatheca, thus she has a lifetime supply and never mates again.
  • The Drone dies after he has mated with the Queen.
  • A queen bee can control the flow of sperm to fertilize an egg when she is about to lay an egg.
  • Honey bees have an unusual genetic sex determination system known as haplodiploidy. Worker bees are produced from fertilized eggs and have a full (double) set of chromosomes. The males, or drones, develop from unfertilized eggs and are thus haploid with only a single set of chromosomes.
  • The honeybee hive is perennial. Although quite inactive during the winter, the honeybee survives the winter months by clustering for warmth. By self-regulating the internal temperature of the cluster, the bees maintain 93 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the winter cluster (regardless of the outside temperature).
  • Drambuie is a Scotch Liquor made with honey.
  • Mead is a wine made from honey.
  • Mead is the most ancient fermented beverage. The term “honey moon” originated with the Norse practice of consuming large quantities of Mead during the first month of a marriage.
  • Honeymoon is derived not only from the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest, but also from the fact that “In many parts of Europe it was traditional to supply a newly married couple with enough mead for a month, ensuring happiness and fertility.” (from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeymoon).
  • The beer that the first Anglo-Saxons drank was a brew of water and honeycomb in a clay pot, with the addition of herbs for flavoring.
  • Honey is one of the oldest foods in existence. It was found in the tomb of King Tut and was still edible since honey never spoils.
  • The honeybee is not born knowing how to make honey; the younger bees are taught by the more experienced ones.
  • One bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year.
  • The practice of honey collection and beekeeping dates back to the stone-age, as evidenced by cave paintings.
  • Honey has been delighting humans for more then 40 centuries.
  • In ancient Egypt, taxes were paid with it, while in early Greece and Rome honey symbolized fertility, love, and beauty.
  • Honey has been used for millenia as a topical dressing for wounds since microbes cannot live in it. It also produces hydrogen peroxide. Honey has even been used to embalm bodies such as that of Alexander the Great.
  • Democritus (460-370 BC), Greek philosopher and physician, chose a diet rich in honey and lived until he was 90 years old.
  • The ancient Greeks minted coins with bees on them.
  • Physicians in ancient Rome used honey to help their patients fall asleep.
  • Honey was the most used medicine in ancient Egypt. Of the more than 900 medical remedies we know about for that time, more than 500 were honey based.
  • In Nice, France, Christmas is celebrated with nougat blanc, a candy made of honey, almond and egg white. Spring, in Poland, is greeted with glasses of honey wine and the Jewish New Year is welcomed with honey cake or apples dipped in honey, to insure a sweet life in the year ahead.
  • Honey never spoils. No need to refrigerate it. It can be stored unopened, indefinitely, at room temperature in a dry cupboard.
  • Beeswax is a true wax, as opposed to Paraffin, which is a petroleum by product.
  • Beeswax has a melting point of 148° Fahrenheit and begins to solidify at 146° Fahrenheit.
  • Beeswax is also one of the preservatives of choice in vertebratepaleontology. Fragile fossil bones are cleaned and dried, and then immersed in moltenbeeswax. They’re then sculpted out after the wax has slowly hardened. Itpenetrates and binds together the fragile bone into a solid, cohesivewhole
  • Honey bee’s create beeswax secreted from glands.
  • Beeswax is used by humans in drugs, cosmetics, artists’ materials, furniture polish and candles.
  • The largest user of beeswax is the manufacture of cosmetics. Beeswax is used in numerous formulas for cold creams, ointments, lotions, rouges, lipsticks, and lip-balms.
  • In 50 BC, the Romans painted pictures with melted dyed beeswax.
  • Beeswax is also used in explosives, some gun powders, pharmaceuticals (salves, ointments, pill coatings, etc.), dentistry (Impression Wax, Base Plate Wax), and foundries use beeswax in the manufacturing processes.
  • The second largest user of beeswax is the candle industry. Pure
    beeswax candles burn virtually smoke free.
  • Third in line of high-end users of beeswax, is the beekeeping industry itself.
  • Minor uses include the use of beeswax in adhesives, crayons, chewing gum, inks, basketball molding, grafting wax, ski wax, ironing wax, wax for thread and archers’ bow strings.
  • Propolis is a sticky resin mixed with wax to make a sticky glue. The bees use this to seal cracks, glue things so they don’t vibrate, and repair their hive.
  • Propolis is used by humans as a health aid, and as the basis for fine wood varnishes.
  • Royal Jelly is the powerful, milky substance that turns a fertilized larva into a Queen Bee. Without this diet of royal jelly, the larva would develop into a worker bee.
  • 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.
  • Royal Jelly commands premium prices rivaling imported caviar, and is used by some as a dietary supplement and fertility stimulant. It is loaded with all of the B vitamins.
  • Bee Venom, the “ouch” part of the honeybee. Although sharp pain and some swelling and itching are natural reactions to a honeybee sting, only a small percentage of individuals are highly allergic to bee venom.
  • The lethal dose of honeybee venom is about 19 stings per kg of body weight (that is 1,300 stings for a 150 pound person). Animals (especially caged ones) as well as humans are at risk. Bee venom may kill few people, but ounce for ounce it’s more deadly than cobra venom. The key to human survival is that so little is injected on the stinging.
  • “Bee venom therapy” is widely practiced overseas and by some in the USA to address health problems such as arthritis, neuralgia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even MS.
  • Conditioned to associate explosive chemicals with food, bees can show the way to buried land mines without risk to dogs or humans. Bees are light, work for anyone, and can be “trained” in a matter of days.
  • In 1984, honeybees constructed a honeycomb in zero gravity as part of an experiment on a space shuttle.

The following is (from the National Honey Board) good information for you
to carry in our efforts to protect the honey bee and beekeepers in residential areas:

  • The US Dept of Agriculture has estimated that there are about 139,500 to 212,000 beekeepers in the US. 95% are hobbyists with less than 25 hives and about 4% are part-timers keeping 25 to 299 hives. Together the two account for about 50% of the bee colonies kept and 40% of the honey produced.
  • Millions of acres of US fruit, vegetable, oilseed, and legume seed crops depend on insect pollination, including honey bees. Almond crop is entirely dependent on honey bee pollination. The following crops are 90% dependent on honey bee pollination: apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and sunflowers. Other crops pollinated by honey bees: alfalfa, cokes, kiwi, melons, and vegetables.
  • Livestock feed: dependent on insect pollinated legumes (alfalfa, clover, etc.). 1/2 of alfalfa comes from California & approximately 220,000 colonies of honey bees are used to pollinate the alfalfa fields.
  • Honey is a natural sweetener with trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. It also has antioxidant properties; the darker the honey the greater the amount of antioxidant properties it has.

Compiled by Lawrence Peiffer

Print Friendly