We’re all aware that bees pollinate plants and produce honey, and we should know by now the hell they can cause us (and why we need pest control) should we think of disturbing their peaceful lives. But there’s a lot more to honey bees than meets the eye! Within that nectar-loaded hive is a society thriving with labor and order, ruled by a queen and protected by a stinger-equipped army. To better understand their way of life, let’s take a look at some of the things happening in their turf.
An average honey bee has a life expectancy of 40 to 45 days. That’s a short time to live, don’t you think? The hive, however, make the most of every second of it, assigning tasks to members of all ages. For instance, bees 1 or 2 days old clean bee cells (starting with their own) and keep the rest of the brood warm. 3-to-5 day olds feed elder larvae and those 6-to-11 day olds feed the younger ones. Those ages 12 to 17 days work to improve colony life, producing wax, carrying food, making combs, and so forth while those 18 to 21 days are recruited as guards, protecting the hive from hornets or other enemies. The senior members (22 days old and above) spend the rest of their lives pollinating plants and getting nectar for honey production.
It took us quite some time to realize that we live in a round world; bees, meanwhile, knew all along! In fact, they consider the earth’s shape when foraging for food, according to recent studies made on the honey bee’s food-finding dances.
And while they’re at it, they also measure the distance from the food source to their colony and any angles that might’ve sprung up from mountain slopes (Yes, they can fly over mountains!). These inborn abilities allow them to navigate anywhere as well as coordinate with their fellow foragers to get the maximum amount of supply possible.
A single bee can travel up to 5 miles just to search for food. The entire colony, though, is capable of flying around 55,000 miles just to produce one pound of honey. Simply put, they can travel around the world, not once but twice (the Earth’s circumference isles than 25,000 miles)!
Crowning the right queen is a very important for a bee colony; indeed, they have a tedious process in doing that, but more on that next time. Unlike normal citizens with the hive whose lifespan hardly goes beyond 45 days, queen bees can live up to five years (though they spend only a year in the colony). Moreover, the queen bee controls the overall behavior of the swarm; the workers and soldiers can sense if the queen is dead as well as when a new one takes her place.
So you see, the bees we regard as either honey-makers or hell raisers live lives more sophisticated than previously thought of. Better give them the salute they deserve. However, don’t hesitate to sic the best pest control in town on them should they decide to attack you in your own home.