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All About Bees, Part Two

Bee-Brained

A bee’s brain is the size of a sesame seed, but they’re highly intelligent insects.  They can calculate when certain flowers are in season, have a solid understanding of distances, the ability to navigate, and the mental capacity to plan longer trips.

Queen by Conquest

The queen bee was thought to be the king bee until a Dutch biologist named Jan Swammerdam dissected one in 1660.  Surprise—ovaries!  When a queen hatches, she will immediately kill every other queen in the hive, whether hatched (if she’s strong enough) or larval. 

Just Dance

Bees like to move it, move it.  Bees dance to communicate with each other, whether about rain coming, anything new they found, and where the food is and isn’t.  If they spin or dance in a circle, that means that they found a good food source, but if they wriggle around, that means that pickings are slim.  Want to learn some bee dances?  Check out the 1943 study by Austrian zoologist Karl von Frisch. 

A Long Mission

We already know that bees work hard, but just how hard is that?  A worker honeybee generally lives between six and eight weeks.  In that brief window of time, a worker bee will fly about one and a half times the circumference of the globe but will produce less than half a teaspoon of honey.  A good-sized colony of bees can produce anywhere from 60 to 100lbs of honey a year.   

Bees and Company

We owe a lot of the food we eat to bees, but they aren’t the only ones who pollinate plants.  They get a lot of help from birds, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, and even bats.  It’s estimated that about three-quarters of the flowers we enjoy and about a third of the crops we eat couldn’t exist without animal pollinators. 

Bees in Space!

Back in 1984, a group of 3,300 brave bees boarded the Challenger vessel.  NASA had built them a special hive to help them live in zero gravity.  The bees went about life like nothing was different, building combs, caring for the queen, and gathering the food materials sent up with them.  Except for one thing—the bees refused to excrete.  Bees insist on keeping their nests clean, so when they were finally able to leave the hive after the seven-day trip, thousands of bees excused themselves to go outside. 

Pour Some Honey on Me

For hundreds of years up until WWI, honey was used as a balm and wound treatment, whether smeared on burns or dripped into cuts.  Honey does have some antibacterial and antioxidant properties, but we have better antiseptics in 2020, so we do not endorse or encourage the use of honey on wounds. 

To Die For

We already know that a honeybee’s stinger is pulled out when it stings, rupturing its abdomen and killing it, but sex has dire consequences too.  When a male bee mates with the queen, he too is killed when his sex organs are ripped from his body, remaining inside the queen.  When the queen’s next suitor approaches, he will remove the parts that the last male left behind. 

Not in My Job Description

Worker bees don’t just collect nectar, care for the queen, and tend the larvae.  There are worker bees whose sole purpose is to remove dead bees.  Others clean, repair, and expand the hive, helped by the workers whose job it is to make beeswax.  Others function as security, forming an in-flight perimeter around the hive to watch for trouble. 

Don’t Bee Bothered

If you’ve got bees a little too close for comfort, call Rochester Pest Pro.  We’re extra careful with bees as we want to remove and relocate the hive to a place where we will all be more comfortable.  We do this without harming the bees and we treat the area with chemicals that keep them from coming back and are safe for you and your pets to be around.