Q: How many bees are there in a colony?
A: At the height of the season an average sized colony can contain 50,000 bees.
Q: How far does a honey bee fly to get food?
A: Honey bees commonly fly up to four miles to collect pollen and nectar from flowers and can potentially cover 50,000 acres. It’s estimated that it takes 10 million foraging trips to make the equivalent of one jar of honey.
Q: When did we start keeping bees for honey?
A: The first record of humans harvesting honey from bees dates back to 6000 BC. In these early days (and in some parts of the world still today), humans were honey hunters -- harvesting honey from wild nests - not beekeepers.
Q: Are honey bees really disappearing?
A: It’s widely reported that beekeepers around the world are experiencing a loss in their bee colonies. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), has been a term frequently used and is characterised by the disappearance of adult honey bees. However, there are a number of reasons why the honey bees have been declining. The Varroa mite and viruses it carries, bad weather, the use of chemical pesticides are just a few reasons. Scientists are still trying to find an answer.
Q: How long does a honey bee live?
A: This depends on the time of year and whether they’re a worker, drone or queen bee. During the summer when foragers are working hard, their lifespan can be just a few weeks. Workers emerging (hatching) at the end of the summer will overwinter in the hive and can live several months into the next season. The drones only have a short lifespan as once they are no longer needed for mating with queens, they are evicted from the hive and die soon after as they can't feed themselves. Queens live much longer, 2 or 3 years, but beekeepers usually only keep their queens for one or two years - the period when they are laying most eggs.
Q: Do bees fly at night?
A: Not usually, especially in places like Cardiff as it is too cold. Bees are 'cold blooded' and need to be warm for their flight muscles to work. Some tropical bees have been reported to fly at night.
Q: Do some bees only pollinate certain plants?
A: Yes. Some plants, e.g. orchids, are very specialized and are only pollinated by one species of insect. Some plants, e.g. tomatoes, are better pollinated by bumble bees than honey bees, because they have longer tongues and also are adept at 'buzz' pollination where the bee vibrates its body to shake pollen from the anthers.
Q: Is honey and other bee products good for our health?
A: Yes. Many people think the antibacterial activity of honey is a useful wound dressing for ulcers and burns, promoting tissue regrowth and attacking deep-seated infections. It’s also commonly thought that local honey works brilliantly for allergies.