Our beloved bees play an integral role in today’s commercial farming industry and are a “keystone species” with regard to both the food chain and ultimately to our survival. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating such popular crops as almonds, peaches, soybeans, apples, watermelons, cucumbers, and a plethora of other fruits and vegetables. In addition to the myriad benefits of pollination, honeybees also provide us with such products as beeswax, honey, and bee pollen, and the health of the ecosystem is intrinsically intertwined with these diminutive, incredible creatures. Here are just a few fun facts about the intriguing and irreplaceable honeybee:
- Bees’ existence on earth predates that of humans.
- Field bees communicate the location of flowers to others by “dancing.” They signal to other bees about flowers’ distance and direction by walking in circles and by wagging their hindquarters.
- The term “beeline” refers to the fact that once done collecting nectar, bees fly directly to the hive, using the fastest, straightest path possible.
- A healthy queen can lay over a million eggs within her four-year life span.
- Bees have thousands of barbed hairs on their bodies that collect pollen that is then dusted off into “pollen baskets” located on the outsides of their back legs.
- Honeybees can see ultraviolet light, which allows them to sense which flowers are full of nectar. They also have three small eyes at the tops of their heads that act as light sensors, allowing them to see the sun even when it’s hidden behind clouds.
- Nectar collected to make honey is stored in a “honey sac,” which is located along the bees’ digestive tracts in front of their midgets, where food digestion takes place. Nectar is stored in the sac until the bee returns to the hive and passes it off to a hive bee for processing.