Far-out Bee Facts
Have you heard the buzz about what’s happening to bees? Meghan Richardson explores the beloved bee.
The humble bumblebee is a fascinating and wholly underrated animal. However, bees are in danger and bee populations in some parts of the world have fallen by almost a third.
You may have seen a misattributed quote by Albert Einstein on the internet that claims, “if the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” While the quote might not actually be from Einstein, the sentiment behind it is real. Bees are responsible for pollinating 90% of the world’s wild plants and contribute to around $30 billion worth of crops every year.
If honey bees were to go extinct it would take just three months for farmers to be facing record low harvests. Within six months, most farms would have to be converted to wheat fields. By the end of the first year without bees, we’d have just 1/3 of the previously available fruit and vegetables.
In case you’ve reached this far into the article and are still unconvinced that bees are important here are five interesting facts that will once and for all prove that bees are the best insect (butterflies gtfo).
One: There are thousands of different bee species
When you think of bees your mind probably moves to the more well-known bumble bee and honey bee, but there are 20 000 species of bee. Besides the classic yellow and black colour scheme we all know and love, there are also ones that are green or blue striped!
Two: Bees can be undertakers
Some bees are born to become undertakers who stoically remove the bodies of dead bees from the hive. Scientists have found that these bees have genetic brain patterns that compel only one per cent of the middle-aged bee population to follow their destiny and do the dirty work. Scientists have also observed that over the course of a honey bee’s life they will perform a plethora of jobs, from guarding to searching for food, but the bee’s brain chemistry changes each time it starts a new position.
Three: The way they reproduce is insane
For politeness sake, I waited this long to tell you all about bee sex but now it’s time to learn. Bee sex is wild. Drones are male honey bees who exist purely to mate with the queen. When the bees have finished mating, the endophallus breaks off inside the queen and the drone bee falls to the ground and dies of a ruptured abdomen. I’m not kidding. The queen will then repeat this process until she collects more than 70 million sperm.
Four: Bees are smart
Bees are probably smarter than me. Researches have proven that bees can recognise a human face and have been trained to recognise explosives. Bees have also been found to understand some basic maths and conceptualise time passing.
Five: Bees have feelings and personalities
A study found that bees are not just mindless drones and have a wide range of personalities. Some bees are found to be better workers, while others are lazy. Some bees are thrill-seekers and others are timid. Bees have even been found to be agitated or pessimistic. Just like you or me!
Bees are precious and essential to our ecosystem. So, do something good for the bees and the planet today and plant some bee-friendly flora in your garden, stop using pesticides and buy more honey. All these actions can help save the bees!