Are you ready to learn some interesting facts about bees?
I think bees are some of the most misunderstood creatures on Earth. Tons of people kill bees and use pesticides on their nests out of fear of being stung. In reality, we need bees!
To get your mind buzzing about these essential pollinating insects, keep reading! =)
8 Interesting Facts About Bees That Don’t Sting:
#1. Most bees are gentle!
Here in North America, our native bee populations are primarily solitary bees. They don’t sting unless they’re in extreme danger. Even then, their sting is much less painful than a wasp or honey bee.
Most people lump all bees and wasps together, thinking about a childhood experience being stung. I don’t blame you if you’re one of them!
But once you learn to identify different types of bees, you’ll see that wasps are a completely different beast. Then, hopefully, you can find a newfound admiration for bees.
#2. Bees are REALLY hard workers.
It’s hard to believe the following fact about honey bees:
556 worker bees need to fly 55,000 miles (88514 km) and visit TWO MILLION flowers to make a single pound (or a half kilogram) of honey. Talk about a hard day’s work!
Honey bees also have very specific jobs in their hive. The queen’s job is to direct the hive and reproduce, laying up to 2,000 eggs per day. Worker bees, which are the other females, do everything else. They build the comb where the larvae develop, gather pollen and nectar to feed the young bees, feed the queen, and guard the hive.
Finally, male bees, or drones, have only one job – to find and mate with the queen.
Solitary bees like Mason Bees don’t live in hives, but that doesn’t mean they’re off the hook. Instead, females make an individual nest segment for each larva, with enough food to reach maturity.
And, they pollinate up to 95% of the flowers they visit. Compared to the honey bee, which pollinates only 5% of the plants they land on, Mason Bees are working overtime!
#3. Most bees don’t live in hives.
As I mentioned above, most native bees are solitary. They don’t live in a hive, and each female is responsible for mating, laying eggs, and providing food for her young.
Solitary bees emerge from their nests in the spring, mate, and spend their entire life preparing nests for the next generation. If you happen to see a group of bees, but they look like Mason bees or another solitary species, you may have found an “aggregation”.
This semi-social behavior allows solitary bees to have some of the protection and benefits of a hive. But, they still create individual nest cells and do most of their work alone.
#4. Bees can live practically anywhere!
You might already have first-hand experience with this. Bees are incredibly adaptable, and they make their nests wherever they can find the right conditions.
Their nests are found in tree hollows, plant stems, reeds, and even the ground. In some cases, honey bees will build hives in very inconvenient places.
In addition to making their homes in some interesting places, bees are extremely widespread. They live on every continent except for Antarctica!
However, being widespread doesn’t mean they aren’t threatened. Many bee species are in danger of becoming extinct due to habitat loss and pesticide use. There are even areas where farmers are forced to pollinate their plants by hand because there are no bees left at all.
#5. Without bees, we would face a massive food shortage.
In North America, bees pollinate 1/3 of all food produced. In fact, bees are the ONLY insect that has been partially domesticated for use by humans, and we rely heavily on them to make sure our crops are pollinated.
Do you enjoy eating apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, or almonds (just to name a few)? If so, you better thank a bee next time you see one instead of trying to kill it.
#6. Bees are REALLY fast!
The exact speed varies by species, but most bees can fly up to 15 miles per hour! (24 kph). They’re also capable of traveling up to 6 miles, or about 9.5 km, in a day but usually stay within a few hundred yards (about 100 m) of their hive or nest. That’s a lot of traveling back and forth!
One of the most remarkable facts about bees is they can beat their wings up to 230 times per second.
This is incredible when you compare it with a fruit fly, who’s much smaller but only beats its wings about 200 times per second. Interestingly, bees have two sets of wings. They hook them together in flight and unhook them while they rest and gather nectar.
#7. Bears really do like honey.
Bears are often attracted to beehives because of the sweet honey. But, to them, the true delicacy is the bee larva they find once they open the hives! If you have a beehive and live in an area with bears, it’s best to use bear repellent or an electrified fence to keep bears away from your hive.
Other predators of bees include raccoons, opossums, and skunks. Skunks will hit the sides of the hive to rile the bees up and grab them once they fly out into the open! Keep your hives at least 18 inches off the ground to avoid this.
#8. YOU can help keep bees safe and healthy!
This is my favorite fact about bees. YOU have the power to help them thrive. There are many ways you can help the bees in your backyard.
Plant a pollinator garden.
As you might expect, one of the BEST ways to attract bees is to plant many different types of flowers. That’s because bees rely on the nectar AND pollen found inside flowers for food!
Perennial flowers are a great option to attract bees because they grow back year after year. In addition, they are typically easy to plant and require very little attention to flourish.
On the other hand, annuals typically produce more flowers than perennials during the growing season (but you have to replant each year).
I prefer perennial flowers because there isn’t much seasonal maintenance. However, this is a personal preference. If you prefer annuals, you can still have a wonderful pollinator garden! Below are just a few examples of some of the most popular flowers:
- Perennials: aster, bee balm, cosmos, and milkweed
- Annuals: sunflowers, zinnias, and snapdragons
- Bees also visit berry plants, fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables!
Another critical thing to consider is the COLOR of your flowers. Bee-lieve it or not, pollinators prefer blue, purple, and yellow flowers over other colors. So, make sure you include plenty of flowers in these colors!
Remember to visit your local nursery for help finding flowers that attract bees!
I believe it’s best to plant flowers native to North America to draw in pollinators. They provide excellent energy sources for bees but are also preferred by hummingbirds, butterflies, spiders, etc.
Set up a bee house or beehive.
Bee houses are designed to attract solitary bees, like Mason Bees!
Don’t worry; I didn’t know what a Mason Bee was or anything about them either. But these insects are incredible little creatures that you want in your backyard! Learn more below
Do you know any fun facts about bees?
Share them with us in the comments!