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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Bee Facts You’ll Never Forget

Bees animal facts are all about the buzzing insect

Bees are one of the most common insects found worldwide. With thousands of extant species, the bees are nature's best pollinators, pollinating acres of crops and flowering plants. The two best-known species of bees are the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) and the bumblebees (Bombus). Bees are closely related to ants and wasps and belong to the order Hymenoptera and superfamily Apoidea. They form a clade, Anthophila, meaning that all bee species have a common ancestor from which they have descended.

Bees are quite similar to wasps but differ in certain biological aspects such as body structure and what they feed their young. The habitat of bees is quite diverse as well, but the most familiar ones, the honey bees, are mostly found in areas with an abundance of flowering plants.

So, if you think that all bees are just social insects who get together to make honey, you are in for a surprise. Want to know why? Then read on for some fun and interesting trivia on bees as well as some enlightening honey bee facts!

If you like reading about bees, why not check out facts about yellow jacket wasp and paper wasp as well?

Bee Interesting Facts

What type of animal are bees?

Bees are flying insects belonging to the phylum Arthropoda.

What class of animal do bees belong to?

All types of bees belong to the class Insecta, that is, they are insects.

How many bees are there in the world?

It is impractical to count the exact number of bees in the world. However, considering their numbers in the wild as well as those kept in hives, there could be a trillion bees and honeybees all over the world!

Where do bees live?

Bees are found in a wide variety of ecosystems. The honey bee is mostly found in gardens, meadows, open woods, deserts, grasslands, and wetlands. Bumblebees can be found in forests, grasslands, and even marshes.

What is a bee's habitat?

The most common honeybee (Apis mellifera) is native to Africa, western Asia, and Europe but is now found in North America, South America, Australia, and East Asia as well. They prefer regions with a profusion of plants bearing flowers and where there is sufficient food, water, and provision for shelter. The honeybee preferably nests in the hollow cavities of trees. The other commonly found bee, the bumblebee, is native to the cold temperate and warm subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and Central America and are not usually found in Africa, Australia, and parts of the Indian subcontinent. Bumblebees are frequently found in farmlands, urban, and suburban areas as well as with some species building underground nests.

Who do bees live with?

Whether bees live alone or in colonies depends on their species. For instance, honeybees, stingless bees, and bumblebees are more social and live in colonies. Others such as the sweat bees, leaf cutter bees, carpenter bees, and mason bees do not form any colony but are solitary.

How long do bees live?

The lifespan of bees slightly differs with the species. Honeybees (mostly queen bees) have an average lifespan of two to three years which may go up to even five years. Worker bees have a typical lifespan of a few weeks and the drones (male bees) may at most live for four to eight weeks. On the other hand, the bumblebee queens live for about a year while the drones and worker bees have a much shorter lifespan, mostly dying on the arrival of winter.

How do they reproduce?

Regardless of the species, the life cycle of all bees involves three primary stages - the laying of eggs by the female (queen), metamorphosis (transformation) of the larvae, and eventually the emergence of a winged, adult bee. It should be noted that not all females of a colony or beehive (bees' nest) lay eggs and mate; it is only the queens that do so and each colony or hive generally has only one queen that is capable of reproducing.

In the case of the honey bees, the drones form an assembly near the hive. The queen bee will fly around this area to attract the drones and release pheromones in the process. A string of drones will pursue the queen and the ones who are successful in mating dies within a few hours or days. The queens can mate with up to ten males in one flight. Out of all the females in the colony, the queen is the only fertile one and can produce as many as 1,000 eggs per day.

The queens can decide if the eggs she lays are fertilized or unfertilized. Fertilized eggs develop into queens or workers, depending on what the larvae are fed and the unfertilized eggs develop into drones (males).

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List does not accord any special conservation status to the bees, primarily because the number of individuals, on the whole, is quite numerous, both in the wild and in apiaries (a collection of bee hives or colonies for commercial use). Most types of bees are in the Least Concern category, however, some like the honeybee are Endangered.

Bee Fun Facts

What do bees look like?

A bee, even though small, has quite an elaborate physical appearance. To begin with, all bees including honeybees and bumblebees have an outer skeleton and are mostly dark brown, red, or black in color. Honeybees specifically have orange-yellow rings and black bands on their abdomen. The tiny bodies of bees have numerous plume-like hairs (called setae).

Bees possess a pair of large compound eyes, between and above which are three small ocelli (simple eyes). The antennae are divided into 12 segments in females and 13 in males and are packed with sensory receptors for detecting touch, smell, and air movements while flying. The mouth of bees is adapted for both sucking and chewing with a long proboscis that helps in sucking nectar. The thorax (body) is divided into three segments, each having a pair of legs, making a total of six legs. The two hind segments of the thorax possess a pair of wings. Many bees also have combs on their forelimbs for cleaning the antennae. Honeybees carry a pollen basket on their hind limbs for carrying the pollen of flowers. The abdomen is divided into nine segments, the three posterior ones of which are modified into a sting.

The bee is one of the most common insect pollinators.

How cute are they?

The bee is a fuzzy little insect that is not really cute.

How do they communicate?

Karl von Frisch, the famous ethologist observed the phenomenon of 'waggle dance' in honeybees where the insects communicate the locations of water, pollen, and nectar source to other workers in the hive through a complex and characteristic dance that resembles the figure 8. The dance is mainly influenced by the sun, the blue sky, and the Earth's magnetic field. Further, the antennae of bees have receptors for sensing touch, smell, taste, and air movements. The simple eyes of bees help them collect information about the intensity of the surrounding light.

How big are bees?

The average honeybee ranges in size between 0.4-0.8 in (10-20 mm). They are as big as a common wasp.

How fast can bees fly?

The maximum speed of bees is typically around 20 mph (32 kmph).

How much do bees weigh?

On average, a bee weighs about 0.00025 oz (0.007 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male bees are called drones and the females are either a queen or a worker.

What would you call a baby bee?

Baby bees are called larvae.

What do they eat?

The food of most bees consists of nectar and pollen. The microbes on the pollen of flowers also forms a part of the bee's food, making them omnivores. The pollen of flowers provides the bees with protein and other nutrients.

Are they aggressive?

Bees are mostly non-aggressive unless, of course, if you disturb their nest!

Would they make a good pet?

A bee is not really suited as a conventional pet. However, bees are commercially raised for honey in an apiary.

Did you know...

The African killer bees or the Africanized bees are a hybrid of the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) and various subspecies of the European honeybee.

Ground bees or miner bees are named so because they create underground nests where the queens live and raise their young.

The carpenter bees or wood bees get their name from the fact that they burrow into dead wood or other hard plant material.

Yellow jacket bees, despite their name and an appearance similar to that of bees, are in fact wasps.

The orchid bees have modified legs for collecting and storing fragrant compounds from orchids.

Solitary bees neither produce honey nor beeswax.

Drone bees are devoid of stingers.

Bees store honey in the honeycombs as a food source during colder periods.

Royal jelly is a secretion from the honeybee that is used to nourish the adult queens and the larvae.

Since bees are insect pollinators, they are most attracted to flowers that are brightly colored, produce nectar, and are fragrant.

Beeswax is a natural secretion of honey bees. Wax is produced by special wax-producing glands in the abdomen of worker bees.

Bees usually die after stinging the victim. The insects cannot pull out the stinger and along with it, the insect leaves behind parts of its digestive tract and is unable to survive thereafter.

You can get rid of the carpenter bee wither by painting or varnishing the wood surface or simply plugging the hole of the bee when it leaves it.

The best ways to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders include the use of no-insect feeders, avoiding yellow-colored feeders, keeping the feeder clean, using insect traps, keeping the feeder in the shade, and eliminating insect-attracting substances such as manure and uncovered trash from the surroundings.

How much honey does a bee make?

Average worker bees produce about 1/12 teaspoons of honey in their entire lifetime.

How many species of bees are there?

There are over 20,000 different species of bees found worldwide, the most common ones being the honeybee and the bumblebee.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including cicada killer wasp, or Africanized bees.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our bee coloring pages.

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