Things you may not know about… Honey bees

We now have resident bees at Edge Hill University’s Ormskirk campus! This exciting new venture will offer a whole host of new opportunities to get involved with beekeeping, with the potential for Edge Hill Honey in the future.

But, not only is it delicious (especially on a pancake… to which I am quite partial), there are many things you may not know about honey and the bees that make it.

Honey is how old?

Bees have actually been around for 10 to 20 million years before humans. It is thought that bees actually evolved from wasps which over time developed a taste for nectar, and began using the hairs on their legs for collecting nectar that stuck to them.

Royal bees

In Ancient Egypt, hieroglyphics dating back over 3000 years BC include symbols of bees to represent the King of Upper and Lower Egypt. Egyptian mythology states that bees were created by the tears of the Sun God.

Sticky servants

It has been rumoured that in Ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh’s servants were covered in honey in order to attract flies to them and away from the Pharaoh.

It’s hard work!

If you are afraid of bees, this figure is about to send shivers up your spine… there are approximately 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees per colony. These bees collect nectar from 2,000 flowers a day, which sounds like a lot. However, to make just one pound of honey, it takes around 60,000 bees travelling to 2 million flowers. To make a whole jar of honey, bees can travel a distance equivalent to lapping the world three times!

A boost for bees

According to scientists, caffeine is also a stimulant to bees just like us humans. It has been found to give them a buzz and stimulate their brains.

Happy honey dance

Bees arguably have their own language. When a worker bee returns to the hive, if they have found a fruitful source of nectar, they can direct the other worker bees to it through a ‘waggle dance’. At first the ‘dance’ appears ambiguous, however using the sun’s position above as a guide, the bee shakes to the left or right in the direction to fly. The longer the dance the richer in nectar but the further away from the hive the source is.

Bee waggle dance video

They know who you are

Honey bees have similar neurological processes to humans when it comes to distinguishing faces. Like noting the different species of flowers by their features, bees can identify the patterns of an individual’s face – the eyes, the nose, the mouth. Which means that they recognise a face they have seen before.

Bees are marvellous creatures, hard working, skilled, and key to sustaining our natural ecosystems. There is even an annual World Bee Day every May 20th.

If you are passionate about looking after them, get in touch with the Edge Hill Beekeeping Society: Edge Hill Bee Society

Kathryn Murphy

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