10 Unexpected Bee Facts

| 1/19/2017 10:14:00 AM

Tags: honeybees, beekeeping, apiaries, Kirsten Lie Nielsen, Maine,

Honeybees are a critical part of our food system, and they are also downright miraculous insects. Even the most well known facts about honeybees are somewhat unexpected, but the more you delve into their unusual lives, the more surprised you will be.

Bees Don’t Hibernate

Instead of migrating like so many animals or hibernating through the freezing winter months, bees stay awake and are, in fact, quite busy during winter. They are not flying back and forth from flower to hive, but they are maintaining their hive and keeping their queen healthy.

c3331Once the temperatures start to dip below 50 degrees F, honeybees gather in a “winter cluster” in the hive, beating their wings rapidly to keep the hive temperature between 40 and 95 degrees. They use all of the honey they’ve gathered over the summer to keep themselves well fed, and on warm winter days you will see them buzzing around, stretching their wings and tossing debris out the hive opening.

They’re Fast Flyers

The average speed of a honeybee in flight is 15 miles per hour, but a hurried worker bee has been known to fly up to 20mph. This enables them to travel up to seven miles for nectar and return to the hive in a timely manner.

The Queen Lives the Longest

While most worker bees only live for a few weeks, and drones (the male workers inside the hive) survive for a few months, the queen bee of a hive can live for up to five years. As long as she is healthy and producing eggs for her colony, a queen will be well cared for by her hive and can keep producing for several years.

The average queen bee will lay 200 eggs a day, replenishing her workers and drones and giving the hive new life as it grows.

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