10 Remarkable Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Bees

10 Remarkable Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Bees

Bees, often seen as mere honey producers or a symbol of industriousness, are creatures of profound intrigue and complexity. They play a pivotal role in ecosystems through pollination and have unique characteristics that set them apart in the animal kingdom. Here are ten remarkable facts about bees that might surprise you.

Bees can recognize human faces

Contrary to what one might expect from an insect, honeybees can recognize human faces. A 2005 study published in "The Journal of Experimental Biology" revealed that bees could be trained to associate a human face with a sugary reward, demonstrating their ability to remember and distinguish different facial features. This capability is a testament to their complex brain function and visual processing skills.

Bees can see the color purple more distinctly than other colors

Bees have an extraordinary ability to see the color purple more vividly than any other color. Their vision is optimized for ultraviolet light, enabling them to find nectar-rich flowers, many of which are purple. This unique color perception plays a crucial role in their effectiveness as pollinators. This is why bluebells, lavender, sweet peas, hardy geraniums, and alliums are some of their favorite plants.

Bees actually have four wings

While it might appear that bees have only two wings, they actually possess four. The front and hind wings on each side hook together to form a larger flight surface, aiding in their flight. When not in flight, the wings separate, making them more flexible and easier to tuck away.

Bees communicate by dancing

Honeybees perform a 'waggle dance' to communicate the location of food sources to their hive-mates. The angle of the dance in relation to the sun conveys the direction, while the duration of the waggle indicates the distance. The waggle dance was extensively studied by Karl von Frisch, who decoded its meaning and won a Nobel Prize for his discoveries in 1973. This remarkable behavior showcases the complex social structure and communication methods of bees.

Beekeepers can wear white to keep bees calm

Beekeepers often wear white protective clothing, and there's a practical reason for this choice. Bees tend to be less aggressive and calmer around white or light colors, possibly because dark colors resemble their natural predators like bears and skunks. This insight helps beekeepers manage their hives more safely and effectively.

Bees often produce more honey than they need

Humans have benefited from this trait for thousands of years. A single hive can produce anywhere from 20 to 60 pounds of surplus honey annually. This overproduction is nature's way of ensuring that the hive has enough food to survive the winter, but it also provides an ample harvest for beekeepers.

Bees produce more than just honey

In addition to honey, bees produce several valuable substances. Royal jelly, a nutrient-rich secretion used to feed queen larvae and young worker bees, is prized for its health benefits. Propolis, a resinous mixture used as a sealant in hives, has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Beeswax, another byproduct, is widely used in candles, cosmetics, and as a natural lubricant and waterproofing agent. These products underscore the diverse capabilities of bees beyond honey production.

The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks while the queen can live up to five years

The lifespan of bees within a hive varies dramatically. Worker bees, which do the bulk of the foraging and maintenance, live for just five to six weeks during the productive summer months. In contrast, a queen bee can live up to five years. The queen's longevity is essential for the continuity and stability of the hive as she is the sole egg-layer.

A Queen Bee will lay about 800,000 eggs in her lifetime

Throughout her life, a queen bee can lay an astonishing number of eggs – approximately 800,000. During peak seasons, she may lay up to 2,000 eggs a day. This prolific reproduction is vital for the hive's growth and survival, ensuring a constant supply of worker bees to replace those that die off.

Bees have an exceptional sense of smell

Bees have 170 odorant receptors, giving them an incredibly acute sense of smell. Researchers at the University of Bristol have found that bumblebees can differentiate their own scent, the scent of kin, and that of unfamiliar bees through their unique 'smelly footprints'. This skill enhances their efficiency in foraging by enabling them to steer clear of flowers that other bees have already harvested. This ability is crucial for their survival, aiding in finding flowers, communicating within the hive, and even detecting predators.


Bees are more than simple insects buzzing around our gardens; they are creatures of complexity and fascination. From their unique communication methods to their unparalleled sense of smell and remarkable reproductive capabilities, bees are truly extraordinary. Their importance in our ecosystem is undeniable, making their preservation vital.

Did you know these facts about bees before, or have they given you a new perspective on these essential creatures? As we continue to learn about and appreciate the complexities of their world, it becomes increasingly crucial to protect and sustain the bee populations for the health of our planet.

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