Here are some interesting facts to help us all learn more about the importance of bees.
- Bees make honey by repeatedly eating, digesting and regurgitating the nectar collected from plants. They use the honey as their food supply during the winter months when flowers are scarce.
- Almost 90% of wild plants and 75% of global crops depend on pollination. They’re five times more valuable than those that don’t depend on animals such as bees, hoverflies, birds, and butterflies.
- Honeybees have a move called the ‘waggle dance’ and it’s a clever way of speaking to their nest mates to tell them where the best sources of food are.
- Honey bees live in hives (or colonies) and are made up of the Queen, who runs the whole hive and lays eggs, Workers, who are all female, and forage for pollen and nectar from flowers as well as build and protect the hive, and Drones, who are the male bees, whose purpose is to mate with the new Queen.
- Honey bees fly at a speed of around 25km per hour and beat their wings 200 times per second.
- The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks. During this time, she’ll produce around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey.
- The Queen can live for up to five years. She is busiest in the summer months, when she can lay up to 2,500 eggs a day!
- In some areas up to 90% of bees have disappeared and over the years more and more bees across the world are leaving their hives and not returning.
- Honey bees pollinate flowers, fruit and vegetables by passing pollen between the male and female parts, which helps plants to grow. They do this by catching pollen on their bodies and dropping it onto the plants they visit.
- A hive of bees will fly over 55,000 miles to make 1lb of honey and can create 100lbs of honey in a year.
If you’d prefer to watch videos, you can find lots of facts via the link to the WWF YouTube channel (opens in new window).
How to care for bees
If a bumblebee looks as though it’s struggling, the best thing to do is:
- Put in onto a bee-friendly flower
- Mix 50/50 white sugar and water to give them a one-off energy boost. Offer them a drop or two to the front of the bee on a teaspoon or drinks cap in a sheltered spot
- Plant a range of flowers in your garden so bees have access to nectar from March to October. They love flowers like primrose, buddleia and marigolds. Lavender and bluebells are also firm favourites of the bees!
- Choose local British honey to support honey bees and their beekeepers.
Benefits of honey and beeswax
Honey and beeswax can be used for all sorts of purposes. There are health benefits to eating honey because it contains antioxidants and is better for you than consuming sugar, it’s linked to lowering blood pressure and improves cholesterol. The better quality honey, the better it is for you. It can also help those who suffer with hay fever and other allergies.
Honey has other purposes too like for soothing a sore throat or cough, it has antibacterial and antifungal properties, helps to heal wounds and helps digestive issues too.
It can be used in cooking for a healthy snack such as flapjack, visit the BBC Good Food website (opens in new window).
Beeswax is the wax that comes from bees. A worker bee produces a honeycomb of wax to store the colony’s honey, which they then eat throughout the winter months.
Beeswax is found in lots of different products including make-up, sunscreen and baby products. Lots of candles are also made using it.
Have a go at making your own beeswax lip balm by following the method on our nature activities page.