Are Honey Bees Really Endangered? Uncover Essential Bee Facts

by Piya Sengupta3 weeks ago

2 Majority of the bees, in reality, are solitary and do not form hives.

Halictus rubicundus
The solitary orange-legged furrow bee (Halictus rubicundus) makes nests on the ground.

A well-kept secret in the bee world is the fact that most bees are solitary and do not form hives or make honey. There are more than 20,000 species of bees in the world, and out of that, over 90% are solitary bees that live and fend for themselves. These female solitary bees do not make hives but build their homes in cracks in the walls, in wood, or in the ground. They also collect pollen as food for their bee-baby eggs but do not provide any care after they are born.

A few common examples of solitary bees are mason bees, sweat bees, and carpenter bees. Compared to honey bees, solitary bees are highly efficient pollinators and provide extensive diversity when it comes to pollinating agricultural plants. (1,2)

3 You better “bee-have” because honey bees can recognize faces.

honey bees can recognize faces
Honey bees can recognize faces.

Having just 0.01% of the neurons that humans do, honey bees can recognize faces, too. Experiments show that if the honeybees can be tricked into thinking your face is an oddly shaped flower, they can be trained to recognize it again and again. It was seen that even two days after being trained, the bees continued to buzz up the target face out of other faces. According to ethologist James Gould, for bees, it is not a human face but just another shape or pattern – or simply an extremely odd flower! (1,2)

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4 The only job of male honey bees is to mate with the queen and die right after as their testicles explode!

Male bees dies soon after mating with the queen bee
Male bees dies soon after mating with the queen bee.

Romance is never on the cards for male honey bees. In dramatic turns of events, as soon as a male honey bee mates with the queen, the end of his penis rips off, his testicles explode, and with his abdomen severed from the body, he drops dead to the ground, a lot like a scene from a Tarantino movie. Even if, by miracle, a male honey bee survives this ordeal, he serves no other purpose and is ejected from the hive. (source)

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5 Bees are not just yellow, but green and blue too.

A bright metallic, blue sweat bee
A bright metallic, blue sweat bee.

Have you ever seen anyone draw a bee that is not yellow and black? Probably not. But you would be surprised to learn that bees are not just black and yellow. They can be metallic blue and bright green, too, among other colors. The green orchid bee, the blue Calamintha, or the ash mining bee looks exotic. The blue orchard mason bee, known as a super pollinator, has a brilliant, bluish-green metallic color, whereas the leafcutter bee is a deep red. The green sweat bee, as the name suggests, is green and quite big. Then, there is the domino cuckoo bee known for its beautiful, black-and-white spotted appearance. (1,2)

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6 Vulture bees and meat honey. Which one is real?

Vulture bees have five large, pointed teeth with which they bite into rotten flesh. Yes, they are real! These bees can sip nectar or enjoy an occasional sugar treat from fruits. But, for the most part, they prefer animal carcasses over pollen. These meat-eating bees have no sting, though. Their peculiar taste in food results from possessing microbiomes that are hugely different from their other vegetarian cousins. They have stomachs containing acid-loving bacteria that help them digest toxic, rotten meat without bad side effects.

The vulture bees have smaller leg baskets compared to other bees, and they use them to take small bits of meat back to their nest to feed the larvae. But, that vulture bees produce meat honey is a rumor, a creation of overactive imagination and misinformation. Their honey may not look like liquid gold or taste as sweet as the honey we all are familiar with, but it is not made of meat! Vulture bees store the meat in special chambers that are separate from where the honey is stored. (1,2)

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