About Honey Bees
Honey bees are a very important part of nature. We all know that honey comes from bees, but what else do you know about honey bees?
The Life of a Honey Bee
Honey bees fly from flower to flower, sipping nectar and collecting grains of pollen. Pollen is a super small, powdery substance that helps fertilize other plants. Honey bees have special tongues that suck up the nectar, and they store the nectar in their throats until they get back to the hive. The hive is where they turn the nectar into honey to use for food.
There are many different kinds of bees—over 250 known species! They are very social and live in colonies. The female bee is called the "queen" and is the ruler of the colony. There are also "drone" bees and "worker" bees, and they both have specific jobs. The queen lays hundreds of eggs at a time. The male drone bees fertilize the queen’s eggs so they can hatch. Worker bees do all the other things needed to keep the hive operating. Busy, busy bees. Always working!
The Parts of a Honey Bee
Honey bees are about the size of a paperclip. They have four wings on their bodies. Their wings move rapidly, at about 130-240 flaps per second. They are yellow with back stripes and have incredible eyesight. In fact, they have five eyes! Bees also have a stinger (but, you probably already know that). Bees only sting when they feel threatened, so don’t annoy a bee or you might get stung!
Honey Bees Do More Than Make Honey
Plants and trees rely on bees to spread the pollen they collect. Bees use the pollen for making honey, but they drop some along the way onto flowers and trees. This helps the flowers and trees reproduce. There are certain colors that attract bees. Those colors are yellow, blue, and purple. Be careful what color your shirt is—there might be a bee right around the corner, ready to drop some pollen on you!
Humans and Honey Bees
Humans love honey, and we have been eating it for thousands of years. There are people called beekeepers who keep bees and gather their honey so we can eat it. Almost all of the honey you see in the grocery store has been gathered by beekeepers. A beekeeper will bring several hives to a farm or orchard. He sets the hives down near the trees and flowers, and the bees do the rest. They zip from tree to tree, collecting pollen from one tree and leaving a bit of pollen on another. The trees and plants get pollinated so they can grow more flowers or fruit, and the beekeeper gets the honey.
- Honey doesn't spoil. Hide a jar of honey. Come back 3,000 years later. Open up the jar and eat it. Still good!
- Honey bees fly at 15 miles per hour. That's faster than most people can run. Watch out!
- Honey bees can only sting you once, and when they do, they die. They don't sting unless they think they are being threatened.
- Honey bees have five eyes. They also have hair on their eyes!
- Honey bees never sleep. Yawn!
So, when you are running away from a pesky bee, don't hate it. Just remember, they are an important part of nature. After all, they are just doing their jobs!