Bees are one of the most important pollinating animals on the planet. The bees (Anthophila), as well as bats, butterflies and hummingbirds, are champion pollinators threatened by deforestation, the indiscriminate use of pesticides in industrial agriculture, climate change, and other human activities. We present the following curiosities and surprising facts about bees to familiarize you with these unique species. It is a good start to become aware and contribute to the preservation of these endangered animals.
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What Do Bees Eat?
Humans and other living beings usually consume the delicious honey that honey bees produce. However, have you ever wondered what bees eat?
Bees consume honey and pollen. These are foods rich in sugary substances such as glucose and fructose, and proteins, which provide the bees with nutrients necessary to generate energy and essential elements for growth. In fact, one of the favorite flowers of these wonderful insects are common daisies. It is an excellent source of food for pollinating bees, because they bloom almost all year round.
Types of Bees
Although the best known bees are honey bees, responsible for producing the honey we consume, there are about 4 thousand types of bees distributed throughout the world. Bee types are classified according to a taxonomic hierarchy into 7 currently recognized families: Apidae, Megachilidae, Halictidae, Andrenidae, Colletidae, Melittidae, and Stenotritidae. Each of these families has various subfamilies, tribes, genera, and species.
Of over 20,000 known bee species in the world, 95 percent are solitary bees. That is, they do not form hives and do not produce honey. To reproduce, a single female solitary bee builds her own nest, provides food and lays from one to 20 eggs. The other five percent are eusocial bees. They live in a cooperative group and maintain hierarchical hives that have a queen bee, worker bees and male drones.
Where Do Bees Live?
If we refer to the natural activity of bees, 70 percent nest on the ground by digging borrows to build their own nests. The rest of bee species reuse pre-existing nests built by other insects or nests above ground in thick grass or compost heaps. Some species make nests high up in bird boxes, hollowed trees, or roof eaves.
How Do Bees Reproduce
Have you ever wondered how bees are born? Well, mating begins when a queen bee flies to a site where thousands of male bees, called drones, are waiting for her. There it mates with several males in flight. After mating with these drones, the queen bee stores up to 100 million sperm, but only uses some of these to fertilize the eggs throughout her life. In one day, it is capable of laying 3,000 eggs.
How Do Bees Make Honey?
Honey bees start making honey by collecting pollen from flowers. Female worker bees collect pollen and nectar as food for the entire colony. Flower nectar is usually stored in an expandable pouch called the honey stomach, which is different from the one they digest food with. When eating, bees open a kind of valve and some load passes into their own stomach to be converted into energy for their own needs.
When its honey stomach is full, the bee flies back to the hive. There, they pass it through the mouth to other worker bees who chew it until its moisture content is reduced from 70 to 20 percent. This process takes approximately 30 minutes. Subsequently, it is again passed from bee to bee, until the nectar gradually turns into honey. The bees then store it in honeycomb cells, which resemble little jars made of wax.
What Would Happen If Bees Disappeared?
In the last thirty years, scientists and environmental groups have expressed their concern about bee populations declining. In fact, over the past 15 years, bee colonies have been rapidly disappearing. Some regions have seen as much as 90% decline in bee populations due to various reasons such as habitat loss, climate change, poor management practices, exposure to pesticides, pests and other diseases. One of the reasons why these insects are so important is because of their efficiency in the transfer of pollen, on which 70 percent of the production of all fruit, vegetables and seeds depends.
However, possible food shortages are only the tip of the iceberg. A possible bee extinction could also affect production chains, gastronomy, health and biodiversity.
What Is Pollen Good For?
Pollen has good nutritional value and it regulates certain biochemical functions. It also strengthens the body’s immune and physiological systems. The dominant presence and high content of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids highlights pollen as an ideal natural supplement that provides energy. Pollen also contains considerable amounts of vitamins and other nutritional compounds. Pollen contains vitamins A, B12, D, E, C (ascorbic acid), and K. Also present are inositol, biotin, thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, folic acid, and pantothenic acid.
It is worth mentioning that pollen is easily collected through the mesh at the entrance to the hives. Thus, when these intelligent insects pass through the mesh, the granules contained in the pollen baskets on their hind legs fall into a container.
Honey Benefits And Side Effects – Bees facts
In addition to sugars, honey provides minerals, such as potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and copper, essential for the body to function properly. Also, it contains substances that help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. For this reason, a teaspoon of honey with lemon is an excellent remedy to treat common cold and flu symptoms such as sore throat and cough.
In addition, it is a powerful medicine to accelerate wound healing. However, that’s not all. It also contains small amounts of vitamins A, B, C, D and K, which are very important for your health.
What Can We Do to Preserve the Bees?
To counteract the damage caused by human activity, these amazing pollinators can be helped with the cultivation of nectariferous and polliniferous plants. It is essential to rebuild gardens and plantations typical of the area, to provide bees with sustainable means to feed themselves. It is basically about restoring ecosystems, either with planting gardens at home, in parks, or even planting flowers in balcony pots.
Is bee Venom Good For You?
Bee venom is used to create medicines for humans and pets. More than 100 diseases can be treated with bee venom. These include arthritis, stress, and some skin conditions. In fact, bee venom has anti -inflammatory and analgesic properties, it has been used in traditional medicine in Europe, Asia and Africa for a long time.