You always hear things like "save the bees" and "bees are important," but most people only really know them as buzzing little pests who sting you if you get too close. They ruin your barbecues, make you flee from your favorite hiking spots, cause paralyzing-inspiring fear when you hear them in your car while driving down the highway... As a general rule, no one wants to be around those little jerks without a can of bug spray nearby.
But do you love those apple pies your grandmother makes every year? The watermelon your cousin always manages to get all over his face? Even those cotton dinosaur pajamas you'd never admit to owning? You could kiss all those things goodbye without your neighborhood bees. From pollinating some of our favorite plants to the infamous "king" bee, the history of our little buzzing friends is often overlooked.
1. Bees are vital pollinators
People tend to think of butterflies when they think of pollinators, but bees are really at the top of the list here. Of the 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world, bees pollinate 70 of those. Foods like apples, vanilla, and peppers rely on bees for pollination.
2. A bee hive consists of drones, workers, and a queen
Most people know about the queen and workers, but the drones are a new concept for some. While the queen lays eggs and the female workers do everything from caring for the queen to collecting nectar, the drone is a male bee with no stinger whose sole purpose is to fertilize the queen's eggs.
3. Your average bee is faster than the average person
If you've ever tried to outrun a bee, you already know that bees are fast. The typical adult can run a maximum of 10 to 15 miles per hour, but bees put that number to shame; bees fly leisurely around 15 miles per hour, but can get up to 20 miles per hour if they need to!
4. Bee venom has medicinal properties
While still being studied, that painful sting you get when you irritate a bee may actually be beneficial for people with certain forms of arthritis! Bee venom may help decrease the pain felt in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and who doesn't want to feel as good as possible?
5. "The Bee Movie" was wrong
If you've ever seen "The Bee Movie," you're familiar with its opening line:
"According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyways. Because bees don't care what humans think is impossible."
Well, surprise surprise, Hollywood doesn't always use correct information when making fictional movies about anthropomorphic bees for children. The rumor that bees shouldn't be able to fly came from French researcher Antoine Magnan, but a 2005 study showed that bees could fly according to our currently laws of physics—Magnan was simply missing certain parts of how bees fly.
6. What did the bee say after looking at flowers every day? Her head hertz.
Not only can bees see visible light, ultraviolet light, and pollen plumes, they can see electric fields as well! They sense the weak negative electric charges around flowers and use this to learn about them. This helps ensure maximum pollination for the flowers and maximum yield for the hive.
7. And you thought only cats hissed
So bunnies purr and bees... hiss? When bees feel threatened, they'll hiss just like a cat. According to this study, bees will only hiss when they do not or cannot escape. Sounds kind of like a scared cat, right?
8. Well isn't that just the bee's knees?
Bees actually do have knees, and they're pretty hairy at that. Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher was able to capture some pictures of these hairy knees, including picture seven in an NPR article about her photography book "BEE."
9. Value every drop of honey you eat
If you're anything like me, that jar of honey won't last very long in your kitchen. Savor every bite though, because the average bee only makes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey her entire life, and it takes roughly 22,700 bees to make a full jar of honey!
10. Your queen bee was once a king
Queen bees weren't always recognized as being female. To cut a long story short, many people didn't believe that a woman could lead an entire civilization, so the bee in charge of the hive had to be male. Beekeepers knew the "king bees" were female, but it wasn't until Charles Butler published "The Feminine Monarchie, Or the Historie of Bees: Shewing Their Admirable Nature, and Properties, Their Generation, and Colonies, Their Gouernment, Loyaltie, Art, Industrie, Enemies, Warres, Magnamimitie, &c. Together with the Right Ordering of Them from Time to Time: and the Sweet Profit Arising Thereof" that the concept of "queen bees" became more socially acceptable.