The Buzz on Bees

March 3, 2020

Art from Walk with Me

They’re fast, they’re tiny, they’re extremely important, and they’re fascinating. Here’s some fun trivia about bees. (There’s a lot more to them than just stinging and honey.)

1. Agriculture greatly depends on honey bees, and their pollination duties. They’re responsible for the growth of 50 different cash crops in the U.S., with an estimated total value of $20 billion. Of that figure, $2.5 billion is from California’s bee-pollinated almond industry alone.

2. And we’re lucky they’re here at all. Bees are not native to North America. They were brought over by European settlers who knew their value even back in the 1600s.

3. The average speed of a bee in flight: about 15 miles per hour.

4. Why do bees buzz? That’s the sound of their wings, which flap at a rate of 11,000 times a second.

5. They work hard, but they’re very small — over the course of its life, a honeybee will generate one-half of one teaspoon of honey.

6. A pound of honey is the result of the collected efforts of lots of bees, having tapped around two million flowers to make that jar.

7. Bees have two stomachs — one for food, and one for storing honey.

8. Bees sleep just five hours a day. They’ll hold each other’s legs while they do, so they don’t fall down into the hive.

9. There are certain tasks assigned to different bees in a hive — scout bees go out and hunt, while soldier bees work to protect the hive. However, about one percent of all older bees change jobs and work to remove dead bees out of the hive. Bees change positions all the time, and amazingly, their brain chemistry completely changes beforehand.

10. When bees find a great source of nectar, it will lead its bee brethren to the spot. It tells them by doing a “waggle dance,” which communicates “coordinates” of sort, relative to the location of the hive and the sun.

11. A beekeeper in Australia taught his dog to sniff out bee diseases that can wipe out a colony. To allow “Bazz the Beekeeper” to safely inspect a hive, the human beekeeper designed a special, dog-sized protective suit.

12. Beekeepers try to not eat bananas. The reason: The smell they give off is almost identical to the odor of the pheromones that bees give off that alert other bees of a danger.


Not bugged by bees and other insects? Then you and your kid will love Eyes on Insects by Ruth Strother. It’s available now from Silver Dolphin Books!

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