There’s no denying that bees are an important part of our ecosystem. But there’s more to them than just producing honey and pollinating our plants. Here are seven facts about bees that you may not have heard before.
1. Bees can remember human faces
Even if their brains are small, bees can pick out individual features on human faces and recognize them during repeat interactions. Their perceptiveness allows them to recognize each other as well as the flowers they visit so they can later return and gather more pollen.
2. The term honeymoon is derived from their honey
Honey was an ingredient in the earliest known alcoholic beverages, especially mead, which is a fermented honey drink. Mead played a significant role in Nordic marriage ceremonies because it is believed that newlywed couples must consume a large amount of the drink made from honey during the first full moon cycle, or month, of their marriage. This practice is one of several proposed origins of the term honeymoon.
3. A strict hierarchy governs the hive
To secure efficiency in their daily operations, bees follow a strict hierarchy in their hive. There are three types of honeybees and consist of the queen, the workers, and the drones. Hives only get one queen and she’s the largest and longest-living among its residents. Aside from that, she’s the only female to lay eggs (about 1,000 eggs everyday for years). Drones are responsible for fertilizing the eggs since their only function is to fertilize the queen before they die after mating. Lastly, the worker bees are all female and the only ones with stingers. They look like the queen but are smaller and aren’t capable of laying eggs.
4. Some bee species’ line of defense is giant balls of heat
As a rapidly changing climate changes the behavior of some predators, some bee species have used their thermoregulation abilities to secure their survival. Scientists have observed Japanese honeybees take on hive-invading, bee-eating Asian giant hornets, which are also known as murder hornets. Together, the bees create a giant ball around the hornet and use the same techniques they use to raise the temperature inside the hive to cook the invader alive.
5. Bees are used to study serial killers
Criminologists developed a statistical technique called geographic profiling (GP) to study repeat-offense crimes like burglaries and serial killings. Back in 2008, a team of researchers observed bees visiting different flowers and attempted to locate their hive based on existing GP techniques. They found that bees’ foraging patterns were as reliable and predictable as humans. Now, criminology experts use insights from bee patterns to refine geographic profiling methods.
6. They help farmers grow better food and keep food prices at a minimum
Bees are known as the top pollinators in an ecosystem. Their help in pollinating not only allows plants to bear fruit but also encourages them to do abundantly, thus increasing the chances of food security in a community or country.
7. Some bees can age backwards
Just like in the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” some honeybees can age in reverse. When there’s a lack of young worker bees, older bees revert to a more energetic, younger version of themselves to take on the responsibility. Researchers are currently investigating this phenomenon to get a clearer view of the underlying mechanisms and potential applications for age-related dementia in humans.
It’s not too late to save the declining bee population and witness some of the remarkable feats that these social insects can do. Some ways to help save the bees are by planting more flowers and avoid using pesticides that harm bees. These little steps can be a big help to these lively pollinators.