Amazing facts about bees.
Bees have 6 legs, 4 wings, 5 eyes, 9 brains a sting!
Bees evolved from worms – the head developed from six segments, the thorax from four segments and the abdomen from nine segments. The segmentation can still be seen in bee larvae and in the abdomen of the adult.
Bees have an external skeleton and their vital organs hang from this. Their haemolymph (combined blood and lymph) system has no veins but is swirled around the bee’s body and organs in a current, by the heart.
Male bees (Drones) have a mother but no father. Unlike other animals they develop from unfertilised eggs and only carry the genes of their mother.
Queen bees mate with 7-17 male bees between 1-3 weeks after she emerges from her cocoon. Her worker daughters are groups of “super sisters” where those with the same father share 75% of their genes with each other but each group only share 25% because they have different fathers.
During their lives worker bees undertake different roles in the nest. Their first job is to clean the cell from which they emerged and keep the hive clean. They then develop into nurse bees feeding their sisters once their glands develop. After this they become nectar processor bees or builder bees building new comb. They may then become guard bees protecting the hive before finally being foraging bees, collecting pollen, nectar, water and propolis (resin).
It takes around 1,200 bees’ lives to make one pound of honey and it takes a similar number of bees’ lives to collect enough food to make those bees!
Worker bees take 21 days to develop from eggs and then work as house bees for a further 21 days before foraging for 21 days until they are worn out and die.
Male bees (Drones) take 24 days to emerge but only live for 28 days before they die from the exertions of flying every day to try to mate. If they are successful they die in the act of mating.
Queen bees take just 15 days to emerge but can live up to 5 years and lay up to 2,000 eggs in a day which is more than her body weight! To be able to do this her attendant bees feed her ready digested food so that this can go straight into producing more eggs.