Hello, Honey Bee!

Posted by National Honey Board on March 10, 2016

Bee on Flower Shutterstock 190425893

Spring is right around the corner and we all know what that means…the flowers are blooming and the butterflies and bees will soon come out to play! Some of you may have already seen some of your friendly neighborhood honey bees out and about as the weather heats up; we've seen reports from friends in New York boasting temperatures in the 70s this week!

Now unlike some members of the animal kingdom, honey bees do not hibernate in the winter, in fact, they are working all year long. In the colder months of December and January, the worker bees in the hive huddle together to keep the queen and the rest of the colony warm as they wait for warmer weather. The queen starts laying new eggs in February, and March is generally when we begin to see the emergence of our sweet little friends here in the U.S.

So to celebrate the closing of the winter season and the coming of spring, we thought we would welcome back our small pollinator friends with some fun facts about the honey bee.

  • Honey bees are social insects and live in communities, also known as a colony, with as many as 50,000 – 60,000 bees!
  • There are three types of bees within the colony, each with their own jobs and responsibilities:
    • The Queen: there is only one queen bee in each colony and her sole purpose is to lay eggs for new bees.
    • Drones: these are the only males in the hive and their only purpose is to mate with the queen. Drones cannot help protect the hive because they have no stinger.
    • Workers: the vast majority of bees in a hive are worker bees and they handle everything from cleaning and repairing the hive, caring for the young, feeding and grooming the queen, foraging for food, and protecting the hive. All worker bees are female.
  • Honey bees came to America by way of the Pilgrims in the 1600s, and by the 1850s had made it all the way to California!
  • Bees like to live in dark places and can be found in hollow trees and even used to be kept in empty logs before the invention of the modern beehive.
  • Have you ever wondered what makes that buzzing noise when a bee passes by? Well, that would be thanks to the fact that honey bees stroke their wings 11,400 times per minute!
  • Honey bees can fly as fast as 15 miles per hour while they are out in the field foraging.
  • Speaking of foraging, did you know that honey bees visit between 50 and 100 flowers during one collection trip? These bees collect from sun up to sundown – talk about a busy bee!
  • Honey bees communicate through dance. So when a honey bee finds a particularly good source of nectar and pollen, she will return to the hive and tell all her worker friends about it through either a round dance (flowers are close to the hive) or a waggle dance (when flowers are further away). These dances include all the details such as direction and distance.
  • Honey bees have been producing honey from flowering plants for more than 20 million years.
  • In order to make just one pound of honey worker bees must fly over 55,000 miles and visit about two million flowers!
  • It would take about one ounce of honey to fuel a honey bee's flight around the world.
  • The average worker honey bee makes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime; her lifetime generally last about 45 days in the warmer months.
  • Most children will encounter a honey bee while they are out foraging. While they may appear to be scary, honey bees are not aggressive and will only sting if they feel threatened. For more on stinging insects and how to avoid them, click here.

We are coming into a very exciting and magical time of year signified by beautiful and fragrant flowers, and honey bees love them just as much as we do. So make sure you say "Hello" when you hear the distinct buzzing of the hard-working bee.