A common sight in your everyday life, bees are flying insects that are closely related to wasps and ants, and are well-known for their pollination capabilities; but you probably know them best as producers of honey and beeswax. The following are some knowledge about bees that you and your kid may not know about, so read on!
An Introduction to Bees
There are tons of varying species of bees worldwide. Bees house themselves in colonies, and that is where the queen bee, worker bees, and the drone bees reside. While the queen bee and worker bees are female, the job of producing offspring is limited to the queen bee, and the very act of laying eggs is the queen bee’s only job. The male bees are the drone bees, and they too, only have one job: to mate with the queen bee.
For bees, their venom is found in a sac located on their stinger, which is also known as an ovipositor. Only the female bees have the ability to sting, where the ovipositor functions as part of the female bee’s reproductive design.
Bees use their sensory olfactory system to sniff out the right flowers, which they need to find so as to gather pollen. Pollen is not just a source of food for bees, but bees also drop pollen when traveling, which causes cross-pollination. This occurs because, when the bees visit a flower to collect its food, pollen from the flower’s stamens sticks to the bees; and when the bees travel to another plant of the same type, the pollen from the bee sticks to a pistil of the flower on this different plant. Cross-pollination refers to the scenario where one plant pollinates a plant of another variety, which causes genetic material from the two different plants to combine and form seeds of a new variety.
More Bee Facts
- When collecting honey or conducting the relocation of a beehive, beekeepers shower the disturbed bees in smoke, which helps to calm them down.
- Adult bees produce honey so as to feed their young, and to serve as food during the winter season.
- Killer bees are known to display an excited and aggressive nature, where they chase humans for over 1/4 of a mile if provoked.
- Several species of bees perish upon stinging. This occurs because their stingers have little barbs or hooks on them, and when bees attempt to fly off after stinging, this very part of their abdomen is unfortunately ripped off.
- Bees cannot see the color red but can see all other colors.
Types of Bees
1. Honey Bees
Honey bees have an average size of 1/2″, and golden yellow colored body, with stripes of brown. Their species are called the Apis. Honey bees live in large colonies and are a very common type of bee that can be found globally.
A special fact about honeybees is that their colonies can survive for many years, thanks to the bees crowding together and eating honey to stay alive over the cold and dry winter season. The buzzing sound that honey bees are known for, stems from the fast speed of their wing-flapping, where their wings can flap a whopping 11,000 times every minute.
Honey bees pollinate over 100 crops in the United States. They produce honey from the pollen and nectar of plants that they pollinate, which is then stored in their nests and fed to their young during the winter months. Honey bees have nests of various sizes, where their nests can be generally found in tree crevices. You can also find nests built in the chimneys or attics of houses.
Honey bees sting only once, and the sting can be extremely painful if the stinger is not quickly removed from the skin. Due to their typically large colony size, it’s only proper to engage professional help for the removal of their nests.
2. Bumble Bees
Bumble bees are 1” in size and oval in shape, and are a black color with yellow stripes. They are very social bees and live in very large colonies. They are considered to be beneficial due to their ability to pollinate plants and crops. Bumble bees often set up their nests in the ground, and occasionally above ground in attics or decks.
Bumble bees can sting more than one time because they have smooth stingers, unlike honeybees whose stingers will get stuck in the skin when they fly off after stinging. When provoked, bumble bees will buzz aggressively and loudly to defend their home. Bumble bees will also give chase to their provokers and can land one of the most painful bee stings. The resulting swelling of the skin and irritation may last for several days thereafter. To tackle the removal of infestation, do engage professional help and ensure regular inspection, and remove potential nest spots.
3. Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are also similar in shape and size to bumble bees but are more blue-black in color. Their species are called the Xylocopa. Carpenter bees are independent, where they build nests just for their own kind and feed only their own young.
They are named as such due to their skill of drilling through wood. Carpenter bees drill through softwoods to deposit their eggs and guard their larvae. Female carpenter bees create a tunnel through the softwoods to construct a nest gallery, where such tunnels can reach a maximum of 10 feet in length. To prevent them from drilling into your furniture, you can consider painting or staining the woods.
As carpenter bees don’t have barbed stingers, they can sting more than one time. They are considered beneficial as they pollinate the plants that have been ignored by the honeybees. That said, they are bothersome due to their tendency to attack wood, and their nests can be difficult to reach. In this case, professional pest management services must be engaged.
4. Killer Bees
Killer bees are also known as Africanized Honey Bees, with a size of 1/2″, and golden yellow in color with dark bands of brown. They are a part of the Apis species. Africanized bees, or killer bees, bear much resemblance to the regular honeybees but differ in the size of wings. They have small colonies and you will often find their nests in the most unique places, including empty crates and even car tires.
They get their strong name due to their nature of chasing humans for more than 1/4 of a mile once provoked. While they are called killer bees, their venom is not any more poisonous than the regular honeybees, and they can only sting once. They, however, pose a greater danger when provoked, due to their way of attacking in larger numbers.
If you were to be chased by a swarm of Africanized bees, run in a zig-zag formation, and quickly take cover in a house, or vehicle. Avoid jumping into the water, as they will only wait for you to surface for air. To prevent their infestation, professional help will be required.
Bees are one colorful insect species that are widely known by people of all ages. It is definitely worth getting to know them better; and educating yourself on their many facts so that the next time you encounter a swarm of them, your first instinct won’t be to run away!