Did you know that there is a “World Bee Day”? Can you imagine dedicating an entire day to a furry little bug who flies around gathering pollen from flowers all day (good thing they don’t have allergies, yuk yuk!) while their sisters stay home making little rooms to store it all in? Well, the United Nations thinks bees are so important they declared a special day to show gratitude, and to spread the word about these amazing little critters, so that maybe we will support them in what they do. I just heard about it on the radio and May 20 is World Bee Day! Yep, you got that – that’s today!
To celebrate, I thought I’d tell you about bees. Of course that meant doing a bunch of research, which kept me busy while I’m laid up.
Here’s Caryn helping me wade through the internet, doing my research on bees:
Basically, bees are pretty cool. There are thousands of different kinds of bees, but only 7 of them are honeybees. Without bees, a bunch of my favorite foods wouldn’t even exist – like strawberries and blueberries and nuts and some veggies. Many plants like these need bees to pollinate them so they can produce food. And when a plant is well pollinated, it produces better fruit. So hale to the mighty bee!
There’s thousands of bees in a hive (10,000 in ours, to be precise, give or take a few). They are called worker bees, and they are all girls. There’s one queen, who’s job is to lay eggs in the wax cells (honey comb) that the workers build:
The workers secrete beeswax from a special gland on their body, and mix it with honey and pollen to make honeycomb. Each cell in a honeycomb is a beautiful perfect hexagon – each side of the hexagon being the same length. Because of this perfect shape, all the busy little bees can make cells at the same time, knowing the cells will fit together, like a bee jigsaw puzzle. Click on this link for a great NPR article on bees and hexagons.
The queen lays thousands of eggs a day, while the workers build honeycomb, and forage outside for pollen and nectar from flowers, which they mix together to make “beebread” to feed bee larvae and the other bees in the colony.
Below is a photo of a natural hive, like ours.
Photo by Leandro Callegari on Unsplash
This is a photo from our hive. They have almost completely filled the hive with comb, so Marlin, our bee keeper, will have to come soon and add more space to the hive.
Bees work together as a community, for the benefit of the whole group, and they work incredibly hard. One honeybee visits thousands of flowers a day. It takes a lot of pollen and nectar to feed each other and build honeycomb. They are constantly sharing information about the best sources for pollen – because, of course, some flowers produce more and better pollen than others. Do you know how they share this information? They dance in front of each other in the hive. By the way they dance, the other bees know which direction to go in and how far away the flowers are. They also smell like the flowers they have just come from, which helps the other bees find the right place. Their dance has a name – can you guess? No, not the merengue, silly! It’s called a bee waggle dance! You can find out more about it here.
People are sometimes afraid of bees, because they can sting. But they aren’t aggressive – they just want to do their bee thing. They only sting to protect themselves, so let’s not give them a bad rap for that. Besides, we get so much in return for letting them bee – a world of diverse pollinated plants, the produce the plants make, and honey.
I could go on and on, but then there wouldn’t be anything left for you to discover, right? So have at it, and smile and say thank you the next time you see a bee buzzing around in a flower, collecting pollen to take home to the family.
Happy World Bee Day! I wonder if there’s a World Dog Day….back to my research…