Why are Bees So Interesting?
Bees are well known for their role in pollination, as well as in providing high-quality food such as honey, royal jelly, and pollen, or other medical products that are beneficial to the human body. This includes honey bee venom, propolis, and beeswax. But apart from that, there’s plenty more to know about the work of bees! The following are 13 fascinating facts regarding bees that you may have never learned about in school.
1. Bee Stings Can Be Beneficial
Bee stings occur when a bee jabs their barbed stinger into the skin. The venom secreted contains proteins that affect skin cells and the immune system, inflicting pain and swelling around the sting area. The consequence is even harsher on people with an allergic reaction to bee stings. That said, the bee venom contains melittin, which is a type of toxin that can aid in preventing HIV. Melittin does so by making holes in the virus’s protective envelope and eliminating it.
Bee stings can even reduce pain resulted by rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers found that the bee venom contains certain molecules that can raise the body’s glucocorticoid levels, which is an anti-inflammatory hormone.
2. Bees Are Extremely Hardworking
If you think that you are a hardworker, you’ll be surprised to know that bees are way more hardworking than you! Bees are said to be one of the most hardworking insects due to their exceptional skills and sheer dedication. They can survive for a period of nine months in the colder seasons, yet can barely live up to six weeks in the summer.
3. Bees Can Change Brain Chemistry When Changing Role
Bees are actually hardwired to take on specific roles, but what’s amazing is that regular honeybees will alter their brain chemistry before taking up a new role.
The roles include worker bees, soldier bees, drone bees, and of course, the queen bee. Worker bees are the sterile female bees that have the responsibility of cleaning the hive, collect pollen and nectar to feed the colony, and also take care of the offspring. The soldier bees work as guards their entire life. A small 1% of middle-aged bees become what is known as the undertakers, where a genetic brain pattern pushes them to do the dirty job of removing dead bees in the hive.
4. Bees’ Brains Defy the Flow of Time
This is one fascinating fact; when the old-aged bees take on jobs that are usually done by the younger bees, their brain actually becomes younger.
5. Bees Are Beneficial to Increasingly More Illnesses
Bees are making a change in the medical industry. To strengthen the structure of their hives, bees utilize a certain resin as glue called propolis, which is found from poplar and evergreen trees. Humans have found benefits in using the resin to fight against viruses, bacteria, and fungi, with research showing that propolis extracted from a beehive can aid in soothing ailments such as sore throat and eczema.
6. Bees Can Differentiate between Human Faces
Bees can be trained to distinguish between human faces by processing parts of the face; the eyebrows, lips, ears. This is known as configural processing, and it could potentially make a change in face recognition technology.
7. Bees Have Their Own Personalities
Bees have been found to possess different personalities. It is revealed that not all bees function the same way; where some bees exhibit a stronger willingness or desire to seek adventure than others. In 2011, a study showed that provoked honeybees can feel pessimistic, which shows that bees, to an extent, may have feelings just like us humans. As such, it seems like individual honeybees differ in their willingness to do certain jobs, and these differences could be connected to the variability in the bees’ personalities.
8. Caffeine and Cocaine affect Bees
Caffeine acts as a plant defense chemical that scares away harmful pests and attracts pollinators. In fact, when nectar is mixed with caffeine, bees actually remember better the location of that specific flower, and this increases the likelihood of them returning to that very flower.
While caffeine helps bees in their work, cocaine, on the other hand, makes bees somewhat dramatic and exaggerative. Research conducted revealed that when worker honeybees’ backs are dabbed with low doses of cocaine, upon returning to their hive, they were more likely to dance and act out exaggerated movements when directing their fellow bee mates to the food location. It seems like bees are affected by cocaine similar to how humans are, as bees also display withdrawal symptoms.
9. Bees Have Special Mapping Techniques
Bees make use of the sun when finding their way. When the sky is cloudy, bees navigate by using polarized light, which are special photoreceptors that enable them to determine the location of the sun.
10. Bees Can Figure out Mathematical Problems
Bees are smarter than you’d think! Researchers found out that bumblebees will find the quickest way to fly between flowers; an amazing feat that could even stump computers.
11. Bees Are Economical Builders
Since as far back as 36 BCE, there have been claims stating that of all the likely structures, bees built their honeycombs using a minimal amount of wax. Additionally, the walls of the honeycomb structures meet at exactly 120 degrees, which makes for a flawless hexagon shape.
12. Bees May Help Police Find Murderers
Similar to the way serial killers act, bees collect their pollen somewhere close to their hive, but at a distance far enough such that their predators cannot find their home. Scientists have examined bee behavior and came up with several algorithms in a bid to understand the “buffer zone”, which led to improvements in police computer models.
13. Bees Are Necessary for Our Food Produce
In fact, it can be said that one-third of the world’s food production is dependent on bees. It is estimated that honeybees are responsible for pollinating up to 80% of the state’s insect crops; an undeniably huge feat.
There is so much more to bees than their job in pollination, or the honey that we consume. Don’t underestimate these smart insects and definitely educate yourself on the myriad of bee facts; you’ll definitely learn how to appreciate this species more and hesitate to chase them away the next time you run into them!