If you’ve ever met a beekeeper, or read about honey bees, you’d uncover a wealth of information that might make for some bizarre, albeit memorable trivia questions. Check out these interesting facts gathered by beekeepers and professional researchers.
The benefits of honeybees:
- Honeybees are super pollinators, meaning they’re very good at helping flowers and plants reproduce. About 1/3 of the U.S. diet comes from insect-pollinated plants. Honeybees are responsible for an impressive 80% of that process. National Honey Board
- Americans consumed 410 million pounds of honey in 2010. Of that, nearly 70% was imported. The Honey Bee Conservancy
- 44% of beekeeper colonies were lost in the U.S. between 2015-2016 due to varroa mites, pesticides and malnutrition from habitat loss. Bee Informed
- Honeybees were imported from Europe almost 400 years ago. Pollinator Partnership
- Where can you keep bees? Anywhere enough nectar-bearing flowers grow. View these pollinator-friendly Plant Guides to determine which plants are best suited for your region.
- Domestic honeybees pollinate approximately $10 billion worth of crops in the U.S. each year. Pollinator Partnership
- One pound of honey requires nectar from 2 million flowers and 55,000 miles of bee-flight airtime Honeybee Conservancy
- In one year, a typical beehive can produce anywhere from 30-100 pounds of honey Mental Floss
- The modern beehive was invented by Rev. L.L. Langstroth in 1851. Most use it because the movable frames make it easy to harvest honey.
Ever wonder how a beekeeper gets their bees?
Most acquire them in one of 3 ways:
- Catch a wild swarm in the spring
- Order your bees by mail to be shipped to your post office (called a package colony). Most are provided in 2-lb., 3-lb. or 4-lb. shipments. A 3-lb. package contains approx. 10,000 workers, a queen, and some sugar water to feed the small colony while en route. It can take about 1-2 years to get a honey harvest if you are just starting out from a new package colony.
- Buy an established Nucleus Colony (a.k.a. nuc) from another beekeeper. A nuc is usually made up of Langstroth-fitting frames already populated with around 40,000-80,000 established bees, including a queen. Nucs are more expensive than a packages because they contain working frames. Basic Beekeeping
Honeybee Colony Facts
What’s a Typical Bee Colony Population Look Like?
- An established hive will usually have between 40,000-80,000 bees
- Queen: Only 1 per colony
- Worker Bees: Make up about 95% of the colony
- Drones: Make up the remaining 5%
Bee Colony Caste System
Bees have 3 social roles within a colony
- Queen | The queen’s job is to continually lay eggs
Lifespan | Up to 3 years
Queen Fun Fact | A queen can lay between 1,500-2,000 eggs per day
- Worker Bees | Are all female, but with undeveloped, or static reproductive systems. Worker bees are either a housekeeper (upkeep the hive) or forager (collect the nectar, pollen, and water necessary to sustain life inside the hive).
Lifespan | Approx. 30 days
Worker Bee Fun Fact | The primary cause of death for a worker bee is burnout (their wings give out after 800 kilometers of flight).
- Drone | Male bees that don’t work. Their only role is to mate with the queen
Lifespan | Less than 25 days
Drone Fun Fact | After mating with the queen, a drone’s abdomen explodes and they die
Interested in starting your own colony? Check out these CASTLECREEK® Beekeeping Tools: