Bee eyes are kind of wonky. Like most insects, they have a set of compound eyes. But they also have 3 simple eyes. Why all the eyes? Let’s look into it…
In the matriarchal bee society, there are few males. Each hive only maintains a few hundred drones, or male bees, in contrast to the tens of thousands of female bees in the hive. And they aren’t expected to do much.
Drones do not collect food, make wax or take care of the young. They do not attend to the queen in the hive. They also can’t sting. There is really only one thing they do: mate with virgin queens. In fact, the authors of The Beekeeper’s Handbook refer to drones as flying gametes.
Honeybees are important. Really vitally important. Our world could not exist without these tiny creatures. They pollinate about 80% of the flowering plants in the US; 1/3 of which are food that we eat. In addition, they pollinate the crops that feed our meat and dairy supplies. Leaving humans out of the picture, bees are also responsible for plant survival, cross-pollinating many species of plants.
So it’s scary when bee numbers began to decline. Bee disappearances have been documented throughout man’s history with honeybees. In the US, there has been a steady decline in wild bee populations since 1972. But in 2006, the world began to see a rapid decline in domesticated bee numbers with the disappearances of entire colonies of bees. In some areas, a greater than 50% loss of bees was observed.
Hornets, wasps and bees, Oh My!
There are many things out there that sting. For obvious reasons most people don’t want to get close enough to identify them. So people will often collectively refer to them as bees, wasps, hornets and/or yellowjackets. But not all “bees” are the same.
Despite our many names for them, technically there are really only bees and wasps, which both belong to the same animal order called Hymenoptera (which is Greek for membrane and wing). Interestingly, ants also belong to this order.
It can be tricky to tell the real bees (non-aggressive pollinators and honey producers) from the bad, fake bees.
Aviary is to birds as apiary is to…..bees.
An apiary is any place where hives for honeybees are kept. Also known as a bee yard, apiaries can be as small as a single hive kept by an individual or can contain tens of thousands of hives for commercial production. Some of these commercial apiaries produce honey while others breed queen bees to sell to other apiaries.