On the third Saturday of every August, the USA celebrates National Honey Bee Day to pay respect to most famous pollinator for keeping us alive. This year the day falls on August 17.
A bee plays an important role in the ecosystem. Not just by providing us honey and beeswax, the honey bee has a lot under its sleeve. But there are reports of their declining numbers
Even as the public’s fascination with honey bees continues to grow, much of the science of honey bees isn’t common knowledge.
On National Honey Bee Day, here are a few things about honey bees you probably didn’t know.
- Honey bees aren’t native to North America
The honey bees we keep in the U.S. are actually from Europe. They were introduced to the Americas through European colonization. However, North America has many native bees, which don’t make honey but are still important pollinators.
- Bees communicate through interpretive dance
Bees go out into the world to find nectar and pollen and bring it back to the hive. When they’ve found a location where the nectar and pollen are good, they tell their nestmates about it through what we call the Waggle Dance. The dance tells the other bees how far away the food is and what direction to fly to find it.
- One Florida honey bee hive can produce 50 to 100 pounds of honey per year
Honey is derived from the nectar of flowers. Honey bees bring the nectar back to the hive, where they fan it with their wings until most of the water has evaporated. Then they seal the honey in the comb with wax.
- Honey bees can’t see red
Bees can see combinations of blue, green and ultraviolet light, but red appears black to them. At a lab, in the observation room has several hives with glass walls that allow the researcher to see what’s going on inside the hive. However, the behavior of bees changes when the bees are viewed under ordinary light. So, the observation room is lit with a red light. This allows to see them, but they don’t notice them.
- A honey bee colony is a superorganism
The honey bee colony is one of those classic examples of a superorganism. That’s because even though the colony is composed of individuals, each individual has a specific job that helps sustain the whole community. The whole community, then, can be thought of as a complex organism itself.