• Allison

Fun honey bee facts you may not know!

Do you see honey bees as little pollinator friends, or critters to be avoided (bee sting allergies are no joke!)?? Whether you love them or hate them, honey bees are an essential part of our agricultural system and are so so important to us, humans.

August 17th is national honey bee day this year, and with this “holiday” in mind, I wanted to share some super fun but lesser-known honey bee facts that might surprise, wow, or otherwise be news to you! They are fascinating little creatures, despite their bad reputation for stinging!

🐝 MYOW (Make your own wax) -- I never really knew where bees wax came from until this year. I guess I thought they used tree sap or some other natural product and chewed it all up into wax?? But no, it’s way cooler than that. Honey bee workers (aka females) EXCRETE wax from special glands in their abdomen. How incredible is that?

🐝 Don’t worry, I have a special wax pick -- So the honey bees excrete wax, but then what do they do with it? First, they use a special little spine on their leg to pick up/ pull off the excreted wax from their body so they can handle it in their little bee “hands”. Yep, you read that right, they have a special tool attached to their very own leg for handling wax. From there they can manipulate it and shape it into the perfect hexagon honeycomb structure in their hive.

🐝 I have a job -- All honey bees in a hive have a job, depending on their age. Jobs ranges from feeding babies (aka larvae), to the honey making process, to leaving the hive to forage for pollen and nectar. But there are other jobs too, like the fascinating job done by undertaker bees. They are in charge of finding deceased bees within the hive, and carrying them outside so that their living quarters aren’t fouled by dead bees. How very organized and clean they are!

🐝 I’m not from here -- Did you know that honey bees aren’t native to the US? The honey bees we have here are originally from Europe! We have thousands of species of native bees, but they are not as well known and are often forgotten (e.g. bumble bees, mason bees, etc). Despite the fact that honey bees are an import, they have become critical for pollinating all of our crops.

🐝 Men, who needs them? -- When you picture a honey bee, you are most likely thinking of a worker honey bee, which is a female. The hive is essentially run by women, and they create males (drones) as needed. Drones are pretty lazy and just eat food before leaving to find a mate. If they successfully mate, then will die from the experience. In the fall, when all the workers need to hunker down for the winter, they kick out all the males! Drones are dispensable and would use up valuable winter resources.

🐝 Honey is for the winter -- Honey, as well all know, is delicious. It's made by honey bees in the spring, summer, and early fall when plants are producing flowers, which have nectar. Nectar becomes honey within the hive through various processes I won't go into here. Honey bees store honey to feed themselves, and it’s absolutely critical for their winter survival. During the winter months, the bees will huddle up together and vibrate their bodies to maintain a warm temperature -- they prefer a temp in the low 90s. All of this vibrating takes energy, so they eat their honey stores through the winter. If they run out of food during the cold months, the whole hive will perish.

Okay, I have so many other cool honey bee facts to share, but I will save those for another day! If you are feeling inspired to help support the bees in your area, I recommend planting native plants if you can. Many flowers and flowering bushes are pretty, but not actually good sources of nectar and pollen, so reference the Xerces society plants lists for your state or region to choose some plants that support pollinators.

Looking for some honey bee jewelry? Of course we have option!

Of course, there are many other styles of honey bee jewelry -- buzz over to Etsy to see them all!

Are you a fan of our little pollinator friends? Drop me a note and share your favorite (or least favorite) thing about them!

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ocellicreations@gmail.com, Raleigh, NC

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