What is all the Buzz about Bees?

What is all the Buzz about Bees?

What is all the Buzz about Bees?

Here's a few fun bee facts for you to take in while you sip your morning cup of coffee...

Did you hear that buzzing noise? 
The reason bees are so noisy is because they beat their wings 11,400 times in one minute which is around 200 times per second!



Did you know there are roughly 22 000 described species of bees worldwide and over 90% of these species are referred to as solitary bees. Only a small percentage of bees are swarming bees that make honey, the rest are solitary pollinators and do not produce honey or wax.

In South Africa we are blessed to have around 1 300 species of bees

Solitary bee females prepare their own nest, gather pollen and nectar and create a “pantry” for their offspring. Once they lay their eggs they seal up their nest and leave their offspring to grow up on their own. In contrast to honey bees that require a team of worker bees to raise the young.


Solitary bees are extremely efficient pollinators as they have specialised body hair to carry pollen unlike the honey bees that utilise baskets on their legs, so they lose far more pollen as they visit each flower. A single red mason bee, for example, pollinates 120 times more flora than a single worker honeybee.

Bees differ greatly in size, colour and shape – some look like ants with wings, others more like wasps, and a few look like the yellow and black honey bees.

The smallest known solitary bee is less than 2mm long, while the largest is almost 4cm. Colours vary from metallic green, blue or red to plain black.

Bees nest in many different locations – solitary bees do not live in colonies like honey bees, but rather choose to nest alone in burrows in the ground, pre-existing or self-made cavities in wood or reeds.

Almost all bees are not aggressive, they do not swarm and are either completely stingless or rarely sting - if they do it is under duress.

Solitary bees do not serve a queen and all females are fertile.



The honeybee is the only insect in the world that produces food in the form of honey to be eaten by human beings.

Around one-third of human food comes from a bee’s pollination, as they collect nectar and pollen. More than 80% of plants on the Earth have been pollinated by bees.

All bees have long tongues that look like a straw, called probosces. They use these special tongues to siphon out nectar from flowers.

Bees don't leave their nest when its raining as falling raindrops are sometimes bigger than they are...

Bees have two stomachs. One is used to digest food and the other is for the nectar they collect to bring back to their hive or nest.

Bees have heightened senses. Their sense of smell is 100 times more powerful than a human to help them detect pollen and nectar. Some researchers are experimenting with having bees detect cancerous tumours in humans.



Honey Bees do a “waggle dance” when they find the perfect source of nectar, to alert other bees in their hive. If it’s farther away than a football field, the dance is a figure eight. If it’s close, they do the dance in a circle, bees will also give directions based on the angle of the sun. The more excited a bee is, the bigger or richer the food source.

The queen in a honey bees hive is significantly larger than all the other honey bees, and can live up to five years and can lay up to 2000 eggs a day

In honey bee hives worker bees that are not collecting nectar have other jobs to do. Some are nursing bees that care for developing bees. Others make and repair the wax honeycomb, or guard the entrance. There are even mortician bees to remove bees that are dead or dying. If you have ever heard the term  “busy as a bee” keep in mind that bees rest at night, but they don’t sleep.

Sadly, over the past 15 years, colonies of bees have been disappearing, and the reason remains unknown. Referred to as ‘colony collapse disorder’, billions of bees across the world are leaving their hives & nests, never to return. In some regions, up to 90% of bees have disappeared...



How can you help?
By planting bee-friendly plants with lots of flowers and by putting up your own "Bee Hotels" around your house you can provide additional accommodation for these bees and they will pay their rent by pollinating your flowers giving you a BEE-autiful garden! :-)
 
Thank you for taking the time to buzz your eyes over this quick article about bees and their roles in our gardens. 
Now it's time for us to get back to our garden. :-) 
Wishing you all a flowerful day.

Kevin & Venessa 
GARDENING.co.za