Facts about bees you might not know …..
Bees and beehives
Honey bees live in beehives (or colonies). Bees produce honey as food stores for the hive during winter. Luckily for us, these efficient little workers produce 2-3 times more honey than they need.
In summer, a single hive can house up to 80,000 honeybees. Hives are very clean places. On the April 1984, aboard a Challenger space flight, 3,300 bees, housed in a special but confining box, adapted perfectly to zero gravity and built a nearly normal comb. But they didn’t go to the toilet. Since bees only excrete outside the hive, they didn’t go for seven days
The members of a beehive are divided into three types:
- One queen runs the whole hive. Her job is to lay the eggs that will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behaviour of the other bees.
- The queen can live up to five years. She is busiest in the summer months when she can lay up to 2,500 eggs a day! A queen will continue to mate – the drones aren’t terribly smart, apparently – until she has collected more than 70 million sperm from multiple males.
- If the queen bee dies, workers will create a new queen by selecting a young larva (the newly hatched baby insects) and feeding it a special food called “royal jelly“. This enables the larva to develop into a fertile queen.
- A newly hatched queen immediately kills all other hatched and unhatched queens in the hive.
- The only bees most people ever see flying around outside the hive are workers. Worker bees are all female and have strictly regimented roles, including foraging for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), building and protecting the hive, cleaning and circulating air by beating their wings and undertakers – they are the ones who have to drag their dead siblings from the hive.
- The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks.
- During this time, she’ll produce around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey.
- These are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the new queen.
- When drones mate, they die afterwards from a ruptured abdomen. Sex detaches their endophallus, which gets stuck inside the queen.
- Several hundred drones live in each hive during the spring and summer. But come winter, or if the hive goes into survival mode because a shortage of food, the workers kick those lazy brothers out.
And for those who didn’t know, the New Zealand parliament building is referred to as “The Beehive”. Some might even say there are some parallels to be seen in the way beehives and the New Zealand government conduct themselves. Let’s hope there’s no food shortage in Wellington ……
Don’t get caught short. Make sure you’ve always got enough honey at your place. Buy our NZ manuka honey, online. We even offer free shipping.