When I was asked to write a post about bees, I felt a lump the size of a honeycomb rise in my throat. I thought to myself, “Bees? Like the things that ruined my 8th birthday party or every trip I’ve ever taken to Rita’s Ices? Those things?!” Yes, those things, but amazingly enough, after reading through Noah Wilson-Rich’s new book The Bee: A Natural History, I can honestly say my opinion of bees has changed, for the better. Here are 10 interesting facts about bees that will hopefully either solidify your love of these insects or foster a new appreciation for them.
1. Thousands of years ago, bees evolved from carnivores to herbivores. Maybe this explains my initial irrational fear of them!
2. There are over 20,000 species of bees who are classified in nine families and further divided by short, medium, and long tongues.
3. Bees can see ultra violet rays. They see the world primarily in purples and blues.
4. Bees have just ten receptors for taste, but 163 receptors for smell.
5. Honey bees communicate via dancing. The Round dance communicates the nearby presence of food. The Waggle dance is used to communicate the location of a food source more than 165ft away from the hive. The direction, distance, and quality of the food is made known through the Waggle. If a threat is detected near the food, another bee will interrupt the dancing bee with a head-butt.
6. In 2000, honey bees provided an estimated $14.6 billion to the US economy.
7. Only female bees sting.
8. Queen bees and worker bees share the same genes, the only difference is future queen bees are given extra rations of royal jelly.
9. Bees pollinate over 130 fruits and vegetables.
10. Flowering plants developed attractive, scented, and brightly colored flowers once bees changed their foraging preference from animal protein to a vegetarian lifestyle.