I often use honey in my baking but have never given much thought to where this honey comes from…until now! So what have I learnt? Well, let me share some of the fascinating facts about honeybees that I’ve discovered.
Did you know that to produce a pound jar of honey, honeybees have to fly the equivalent of three times around the world?
I don’t know about you, but I love honey smothered on hot buttered toast – yummy! In the summer I like it drizzled over Greek yoghurt and fresh juicy peaches for breakfast – so delightful. In Winter I love to bake a moist honey cake that’s sweet and gooey – so comforting.
Learning about beekeeping
At the moment, lockdown has changed the way many of us live our lives. For me, a real positive is that I now have TIME. Time, amongst other things, to develop my photographic skills and time to learn about beekeeping and the fascinating world of the honey bee.
Fascinating Facts about Honeybees
There are three distinct types of honeybee, each with their own roles within a hive. At first, I found it hard to visually distinguish one type from another but as I’ve become more practised it’s become much easier, thankfully.
The Queen Bee
The queen is largest bee and there is only one of her in any colony. She is the only honeybee to lay eggs. in fact she is so busy laying eggs, about 2000 a day, that she doesn’t even feed or clean herself. She has attendants that do the job for her.
The queen bee is the only honeybee that can sting more than once. Interestingly, she uses her sting to help position her eggs. She only ever leaves the hive at the beginning of her life. This is when she goes off to mate with as many drones (male bees) as possible – usually between 12-15 drones. The more the better, as this ensures genetic diversity and a healthy colony.
The Drones or Male Bees
There aren’t many male honeybees, in fact, they only make up about 15% of the population of any colony. They don’t have any stings and are identifiable by their big eyes and larger bodies.
Drones don’t contribute to their hive. Their main purpose in life is to mate with a queen. They do this high up in the sky in what is known as a DCA or Drone Congregation Area. Apparently they don’t fight each other for the queens but when they are successful in mating, that’s usually it, their life is over!
The Worker Honeybees
20,000 to 60,000 in a healthy hive – all girls on a mission, busy getting their jobs done. Interestingly worker bees have several different tasks during their lifetimes depending on their age.
Young bees become nurse bees, who feed the larvae, mortuary bees, who keep the hive clean or queen attendants, who feed and groom the queen.
More mature workers, approximately 12 days plus, become pollen packers, honeycomb builders, honey sealers or bees that fan the hive with their wings to keep it cool. Did you know that the buzz of a bee is, in fact, the sound of its wings moving?
Mature workers at approximately three weeks become guard bees, the ones that protect the hive from marauding wasps and foraging bees – the honeybees that we are all familiar with. The Honeybees we see in our gardens collecting nectar and pollen.
Did you know, foraging bees visit up to 50 -100 flowers per trip? They can’t see red but love blue, so if you want to encourage honeybees into your garden you might want to try planting blue flowers like lavender and rosemary. They can travel up 6 miles and have an average speed of 15 miles/hour
Lots more to learn…
There are many more fascinating facts about honeybees that I could tell you. However, for now, I hope I’ve sparked your interest in one way or another and that if nothing else you have a better appreciation for these amazing insects. I will leave you with one more interesting fact – Honeybees accomplish all this with a brain only the size of a grain of sugar.
One of my Toastmaster speeches – Enjoy!
Honeybee photographic art designs
You might be interested to know that my honeybee double exposure photograph above is now available, along with some of my other photographic designs, on cushions, masks, phone cases, mugs, socks, coasters etc. Please click the link below for more details.
For information about different types of bees in the UK, check out Bee Life – an interesting website dedicated to all things bee related.
‘Bringing world-class sugarcraft to your kitchen’