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Image by Myriam Zilles

FAQ - Questions Often Asked About Bees

Image by Lukas Blazek

How many bees are there in a colony?

A typical hive has 15,000-20,000 in the winter and 55,000-80,000 in the late spring/summer season.

How fast does a honeybee fly?

When flying to a food source, a normal top speed is 15-20mph and when flying back (with a full necta/pollen/water/propolis load, a normal top speed is 12mph.

How many flowers does a bee visit in a day?

Up to 2,000, in trips split into 50-100 flowers. Up to 500 miles in the 3 weeks devoted to foraging.

How many species of honeybee are there?

There are 7 species of honey bee - the most common is Apis Mellifera.

What do honeybees do in winter?

Bees do not hibernate, they cluster together using their bodies to generate heat. Bees take turns to be on the outside of the cluster; except for the queen. On very mild days, foragers may go out.

Can bees fly in the rain?

Bees can fly in the rain, provided it is not too heavy or windy. A bee will shelter away from the hive if heavy rain has started before it can return.

Do honeybees sleep?

Yes, but some continue hive tasks during the dark hours.  Foragers and other bees very busy during the day will rest and sleep at night.

Can a honeybee see colour?

Bees eyes can detect a wide array of colour and are more sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum and into the unltra-violet - flowers appear very bright to a bee.

How do bees make honey?

Worker bees suck nectar through their proboscis into their 'honey stomach' and disgorge it into a nectar cell in the hive. When partly dehydrated, the cell is sealed with wax.

How many eggs does the queen lay?

Around 1 million if she lives a natural lifespan for a queen, her own body weight in eggs each day in the season.

How much honey does one hive make?

A typical hive can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey in a year - the colony needs 25 pounds of honey for the winter.

Do other animals make honey?

Other bees, wasps and ants also make varieties of honey, often runnier and with a more tangy taste - none of these produce honey on a similar scale to honeybees.

What is the temperature in a hive?

A constant 33.8 Celsius, maintained in winter by forming a cluster and in summer by fanning air.

Where do bees get water?

A worker bee can carry 25mg of water in one foraging trip and make 50 trips in one day. Water can be collected from dew on flowers and plants or provided by an entrance feeder at the hive.

How many mating flights does a queen go on?

1 to 16 flights. A queen has around 20 days to acheive mating before she loses her ability. If mated on the first flight, no other flight is necessary. She can lay 2,000 or more eggs per day and lays a fertilised or unfertilised egg depending on the cell size, measured with her feet.

Where does beeswax come from?

Young worker bees make wax, from 8 glands under their abdomen. Drops harden into flat flakes.

How far can a bee fly?

A forager bee can fly 3 miles, but on average travel within 1 mile of the hive.

How long do bees live?

A queen can live 3 to 4 years; a worker lives 5-6 weeks if born in the spring/summer and 5-6 months if born in the autumn winter. Drones (male bees) die immediately after mating. Unmated drones are expelled from the hive in early autumn.

Does smoke calm bees?

Bees are not 'calmed' by smoke, but are instead distracted with gorging on honey stores in case they have to depart the hive due to a perceived fire.

How may eyes does a bee have?

Bees have 5 eyes - 2 large compound eyes and 3 small ocelli eyes in the centre of the face.

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