How much do you actually know about bees?
Who do we have to thank for smoothie week, fruit-picking, and apple-related folklore? The European honeybee, of course. These fierce pollinators who came to this continent via the Columbian Exchange make it possible for us to enjoy a lot of our favorite foods. As colony collapse disorder continues to threaten our tiny winged friends, we should celebrate and preserve them and promote awareness however we can. Not just for the sake of agriculture, but also because these are some fascinating insects. National Honey Bee Appreciation Day was August 18th. Did you brush up on your bee facts?
1.) How many eggs does a queen bee lay per day?
A queen bee is the only female in the colony who reaches sexual maturation. Normally, the worker bees will never lay eggs unless the queen is compromised. Since the queen bee is essentially in charge of repopulating the massive family, she has a lot of work to do. According to the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium, the queen can produce up to 1,500 eggs per day and a million throughout her lifespan.
The queen mates outside of her own colony — there’s nothing like a little genetic variety. It takes less than 15 minutes for the queen to leave her home hive, find 7-15 drones to mate with, and return to her hive to prepare to lay some eggs. She lays both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. The fertilized ones will become workers or queens while the unfertilized ones will become drones.
2.) How do bees navigate the air?
3.) What other kinds of bees do we know?
4.) How do bees communicate?
Book Roundup: Beekeeping for Beginners
Michelle, Who’s That Buzzing at Our Door?
This post originally appeared in Sierra magazine.