If there’s anything that proves good things come in small packages, it’s the amazing Honey Bee.
Honey Bees are the most industrious creatures on the planet and we have learnt a lot from their organisational and sensory abilities. Structure and cooperation is embedded in the honey bees’ instincts and each bee serves a specific purpose in the running of the hive.
Sure, they sting, but as Royden Brown once put it "Unique among all God's creatures, only the honey bee improves the environment and preys not on any other species."
In other words, let’s let them do their job. If you don’t harm them, they won’t harm you.
As the only producers of food eaten by man in the insect world, the Honey Bee has remarkable qualities that prove they are a natural phenomenon.
The Honey Bee’s senses achieve superhero status
When you take a look at the extraordinary senses of a Honey Bee, it makes you wonder why Stan Lee created Spiderman and not Beeman.
For a brain the size of a sesame seed, it sure has the capacity to give the Honey Bee some amazing senses that enhance their capabilities.
Of all insects, it has the highest amount of odorant receptors. With a sense of smell so precise, they can differentiate between hundreds of flower varieties. They can also detect the direction of pollen even from several yards away.
Yes, Honey Bees even have a good sense of taste. Their taste allows them to distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter and salty, and they are more sensitive to salt than humans.
Their visual ability not only aids their impressive sense of direction, but also enables them to recognise that which they’ve seen before – even human faces. So don’t go annoying the hive, you never know who might track you down!
Touch is also an important factor in the Honey Bee’s life as it helps them to gauge the depth of cells while constructing comb.
Each hive is a tight-knit organisation
From Queen Bees to Foragers, every bee has a specific role within the hive. The organised hierarchy ensures the hive works like a well-oiled machine, and their system of cooperation and production is so sophisticated that many leaders have tried to adapt the structure of the bee hive in their organisations.
Queen Bees – Quite literally, the Mother of all bees, the Queen Bee is the only fertile female in the colony and the only one able to lay eggs. With the potential to lay around 2000 eggs per day, the Queen Bee solely maintains the hive’s population.
Her scent not only assures the other bees that all is well within the hive, it also keeps the other female bees sterile. The Queen Bee’s scent is unique to differentiate one hive from the next.
But when her eggs production decreases, the other bees will let her know her time is up. The bees will then start to feed Royal Jelly to a developing larva in preparation for a new Queen.
Drones – to put it bluntly, Drones have one sole purpose: to mate with the Queen Bee.
Hatching from an unfertilised egg means Drones have only one parent and only a single set of genes. This means they are neither able to sting nor collect pollen and contribute to the hive.
The Worker Bees can make things a little tough for the Drones during the winter season. For when food is low, the Worker Bees will prevent the Drones from entering the hive and thus, they often die of starvation.
Worker Bees – The entire Worker Bee population are female and their ‘biological clock’ guides them through various roles throughout their lifetime. The Worker bee will take on the following jobs throughout the stages in their life.
The Worker Bees are by far the busiest in the Honey Bee community, and are responsible for many areas of the hive including:
- Cleaning brood cells
- Removing dead corpses from the hive
- Nursing and nurturing developing lavae
- Building and maintenance around the hive
- Controlling temperatures
- Guarding the hive
- Foraging in the field
The saying ‘busy as a bee’ is truer than you think
To say someone is busy states the obvious. But to add ‘as a bee’ implies they are busy in a pleasant and purposeful way.
In light of the above descriptions on the role of each bee in the hive, Worker Bees are by far the busiest in the bee colony. And after the hundreds of foraging trips in a Worker bee’s life, she will make just one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey.
So take a moment to remember how many bees it took to make that golden liquid next time you open a jar!
Traveling at a radius of five to six kilometres per day, the foraging Worker bee will get the job done before the sun goes down. When she retires to the hive after a busy day, she won’t sleep but she will remain motionless until the sun rises again.
But many of the Worker Bees’ responsibilities require them to work around the clock – particularly those that involve feeding and guarding. Their work is always productive and a valuable contribution to the hive. Needless to say, ‘they’re as busy as bees’.
Communication is key and honey bees have it down pat
It’s extraordinary almost as much as it is cute. The Honey Bee’s communication involves a specific dance that precisely directs other Honey Bees to food sources.
It’s all about duration, vibration and direction when the bees perform their dance for their fellow foragers. Duration and vibration give an exact distance and the Honey Bee shakes its body in the direction of the flowers.
The world would be a happier place if we all just added a touch of dance into our daily communications.
As our knowledge of Honey Bees increases, so too does our respect for this wonderful insect. Their fastidiously organised societies, productivity and cooperative nature are just a few attributes that we have adopted into organisational culture.
The Honey Bee’s accumulative strength gives us the beautiful honey that many of us take for granted.
So next time you’re purchasing your jar of Manuka honey, remember how many Honey Bees it took to bring that jar to you – that’s about 22,000!
Visit Bee Plus Manuka Honey today and discover the delicious and distinctive taste of our pure Manuka Honey.