I’m sure I’m not the only one with a mild fear of bees. I’ve been stung many times before and it’s not a particularly pleasant feeling to say the least. But over the years, I’ve definitely gained a new appreciation for these insects and wanted to share some fun facts about bees!
[ONE] There are roughly 20,000 species of bees in the world and a wide range of characteristics. Some make honey; others don’t. Some bees die when they sting, others don’t sting at all, and even more are somewhere along that range. And even though there are 20,000 species of bees, only a handful of bee species produce honey.
[TWO] The most famous bee species is the European honeybee (apis mellifera) and researchers found that this common species originated in Africa! This specific species of bee also wasn’t introduced to the Americas until roughly 1622.
[THREE] The common honey bees that we know today also didn’t make its way over to the west coast of the United States until the 1860s. Other common/major bee groups in the Pacific Northwest include: bumble bees (bombus), mason bees (osmia), sweat bees (Lasioglossum and Halictus), mining bees (andrena), leafcutter bees (megachile), cuckoo bees (Sphecodes, Nomada, Triepeolus and Coelioxys). If you want to learn more about these bee groups, check out the following article from the Arboretum Foundation!
- Getting to Know Our Native Northwest Bees By Hillary Sardiñas
[FOUR] Honeybees are social and a hive is made up of three types of bees: workers, drones, and the queen bee. Worker bees are the ones you’re most likely to see and are female bees that aren’t sexually developed. They do many functions like forage for food and build, protect, and clean the hive. Drone bees are exclusively male honey bees and their primary role is to mate with the queen bee. Not all drones will get to mate with the queen but once they do, they die! And the last type of honey bee in a hive is the queen bee. There’s usually only one queen in a hive at a time and her main job is to lay eggs and grow the next generation of bees. Once the queen bee dies, worker bees will create a new queen by feeding a female larvae a diet of something called “royal jelly”.
[FIVE] Because of many factors and threats, there are many bee species that have been in decline over the years. But there are many ways in which we can help these insects! One is to plant native plants and flowers in your garden (if you have one) and leave some bare ground to allow for the bee species that burrow into the ground to make a home.