Let’s zzzz in the world of Bees!
Look at these two adorable bees cuddled together, sleeping! This amazing image by photographer Joe Neely gives us much to contemplate about the life of bees. You can find out more about Joe and this wonderful photo by visiting his Instagram page.
I’m guessing that since you opened this tab you have some kind of affinity for bees. They are such incredible little bee-ings and our lives literally depend on their existence. I thought it might be fun to start off with some interesting bee facts that you may not know.
Some Fascinating Facts About Bees
🐝 There are over 20,000 species of bees in the world.
🐝 In her lifetime, a bee produces about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey.
🐝 A honeybee visits between 50 and 100 flowers during the day’s collection trip.
🐝 A worker bee lives for about a month in the spring or summer but up to 6 months in the winter.
🐝 A worker bee can carry a load of pollen or nectar equal to 80% of her own body weight.
🐝 The buzzing sound we hear in honeybees is produced by them beating their wings approximately 220 times per second.
🐝 Each honeybee from the same hive has their own particular color identification.
🐝 A typical bee colony has between 20,000 and 60,000 workers.
🐝 The queen bee may lay as many as 2000 – 3000 eggs per day.
🐝 Bees work in unison to keep the temperature of the hive as close to 95 degrees as possible. In the summer, they wave their wings to create a misting effect with water that they bring into the hive. In the winter, they keep the hive warm by generating heat from vibrating their flight muscles.
🐝 After the Iceland volcanic eruption in 2021, five hives were discovered that were covered with ash containing thousands of bees, still alive and buzzing away. They had survived the heat and noxious gases of the volcano by using bee propolis to seal themselves inside the hive. In addition, they were able to ward off starvation by feeding themselves from their stores of honey. They even made sure to leave a tiny pathway so that they could get out when the danger was over!
🐝 Incredibly, jars of honey left in King Tut’s tomb were still completely edible when opened. Honey, stored properly, never spoils – even after 3000 years!
If you are interested in bees, I would highly recommend the book The Honey Bus, by Meredith May. As the byline says, “A memoir of loss, courage, and a girl saved by bees”. It’s quite extraordinary and will most certainly give you a greater understanding of, and love for bees and their important place in our lives. In addition, there is a wonderful children’s book called The Life and Times of the Honeybee, by Charles Micucci. It offers such fun and interesting facts about bees, along with captivating illustrations.
I also would like to suggest Maurice Maeterlinck’s book The Life of the Bee, written in 1901. It was what first informed my curiosity and love for bees when I read it decades ago. It’s a book for adults, but the way he takes you into the hive itself is sure to captivate the attention of many children, as well.
Lastly, I would heartily recommend that you look up Martin Dohrn, the wildlife filmmaker and director of the award-winning production company Ammonite Films. His recent documentary My Garden of a Thousand Bees, filmed during the pandemic lockdown, is an exceptional work that allows us to see into the lives of more than 60 species of bees visiting his backyard. After some time of filming, he gets so close to some of them that he recognizes them and actually develops a relationship with them.His patience in filming these little beings and his brilliant creativity in developing the proper cameras to be able to study them is truly a wonder to behold. I can assure you that you will never look at a bee in the same way once you have seen this beautiful documentary!
Here are his suggestions for helping our bee friends, taken from PBS Nature https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/blog/qa-with-martin-dohrn/%20%20:
1. Keep all insecticides as far from bees as possible – even to the extent of keeping commercial cut flowers or non-organically grown vegetables out of the compost heap.
2. Allow indigenous plants (known by some people as weeds) to spread. If bees visit them, keep them. If not, perhaps remove them and make space for those that do. If it’s in your own garden. Out in the wild, let the plants sort themselves out. Many garden centers sell wildflowers, some of which are bee favorites.
3. Domesticated garden plants are often of no use to bees, as they have been bred to have spectacular flowers at the expense of giving nectar and pollen. But there are other garden plants the bees love. Different species of bee like different kinds of flower. So, in the end, diversity is also useful. From one year to the next, you will be able to see which flowers attract the best bees.
4. Often the limiting factor in bee numbers is nest sites. There are many you can buy on the internet, often made of tubes or wooden tunnels. Some have clear plastic sides so you can see what’s going on. But other bees like rotten wood, especially dry logs with lots of sun, and a large number like to make burrows in the soil. In almost all cases, they like it dry or well-drained. Sand mixed with soil is a popular consistency. Bees also like the sun. Lots of sun. So, nest sites are going to be most successful in sunny corners.
I wish you a wonderful journey toward greater awareness of, as well as delight in, our precious bee buddies. Thank you, in advance, for your participation in helping create a better life for them, and thus, for all of us on this beautiful planet.