- During the summer female worker bees only live for about six weeks and it takes 12 worker bees looking for nectar to make one teaspoon of honey. Can you guess how much honey is produced by a full hive of around fifty thousand bees in one summer?
One hive may produce around 30kg – 120 pots! However, the bees themselves will eat half of this.
- To make one 250g pot of honey, bees have to fly nearly 25000 miles – that’s the same as flying once around the world. On each trip out of the hive to look for nectar and pollen, a honeybee will visit between 50 and 100 flowers.
- Honeybees have been present in Europe for nearly 30 million years. Homo sapiens, or modern humans, evolved only 250,000 years ago.
- Honeybees fly at an average speed of over 15 mph, faster than most cyclists, and in flight a bee beats its wings nearly 200 times per second, which makes their famous buzzing sound.
- Around 26,000 people live in Snowdonia National Park. How many honeybees do you think live in a beehive?
A single bee hive will contain only one queen, a few hundred drones (male bees) and up to 50,000 female worker bees.
- Swarming is the bees’ way of increasing the species. When the hive becomes crowded with bees, the colony raises a new queen by feeding a worker grub with royal jelly. The new queen emerges after 15 days. The old queen then flies from the hive, with about half of the workers. The swarm settles on a bush, wall or tree, while scout bees fly around looking for a new home.
- Honeybees have 6 legs (one pair has baskets for carrying pollen), 2 compound eyes made up of thousands of tiny lenses (one on each side of the head), 3 simple eyes on the top of the head, 2 pairs of wings, a nectar pouch and a stomach.
- The honeybee’s brain is about the size of a sesame seed, yet bees have a remarkable ability to learn and remember things and can count and make complex calculations of distance and where best to collect nectar.
- The queen bee can live up to five years and is the only bee that lays fertilised eggs. She is busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2000 eggs per day.
- Bees never sleep. However, male bees (drones) do not make any honey either. The drones’ main function is to be ready to mate with and fertilise a queen bee. When they have done this, they die.