Over the time I’ve been studying bees, I’ve realised they are hardy little creatures. I mean they are resourceful and have a social structure that is akin to that of humans.
Questions have risen on how strong bees actually are and we decided to share a post on that.
As surprising as it is, bees are really strong. Honey bees are known to fly up to 13km and can carry up to half their own weight of products.
That is basically like a 100kg human carrying a weight of 50kg over a long period. This is quite fascinating.
Today we will look at the strength of bees, how much they can lift, how much honey one bee can produce to mention a few.
How Much Can A Bee Lift?
A bee usually carries a variety of materials on its foraging trips throughout its lifetime.
Forager worker bees have to go out to provide food and other important substances from the source location back to the hive.
The bees find pollen, nectar, water to mention a few and take them back to the hive to feed the queen, brood and other colony members.
Studies have discovered that bees can carry about 15mg of pollen grains. A bee can visit about 50 – 100 flowers in one foraging trip and then store 20 – 40mg of nectar in its’ crop to take back to the hive.
Bees can also carry about 50mg of water which they carry by drinking and storing in their crops until they get back to the hive.
It has been reported that most bees can carry up to about half of their body weight. For small creatures, this is noteworthy behavior.
The bees never cease to amaze me.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on how hot can bees survive
What Is The Strongest Type Of Bee?
There are various species and subspecies of bees and the honey bees are reputed to be one of the strongest types of bee species found in the world.
Much of the strength of the honeybee comes from the fact that they have an organized social structure which is a colony and there are usually several thousands of bees in each colony.
Now all of these have to be catered for and fed while also breeding new ones, else the colony will die out.
In a honey bee colony, there are three different castes, the queen, the female worker bee and the drones (male bees).
The queen is tasked with the job of reproduction and the drones do not perform any tasks in the hive except to mate with the queen.
The female worker bees are by far the toughest of the honeybees.
The female workers are infertile and are tasked with the day of the running of the colony, raising the brood, providing the colony with food and other necessary materials and keeping the colony warm throughout the winter months.
A worker bee does a variety of tasks within her short life span of 5-6 weeks.
They serve as in house bees nursing the brood, they also guard the hive entrance once they reach 21 days.
As they get older they transit to foraging bees who go out to get pollen, nectar and water.
They are various species of honey bees that have been domesticated for breeding over time.
While some are less aggressive, others are known for being resistant to diseases. Knowledge of the different honeybee strains will help you as a beekeeper to choose the one you would want to.
Also check out this article I wrote on are roses good or bad for bees?
Can You Outrun A Bee?
When you accidentally upset a nest of bees and the whole swarm is coming for you, do not remain in one position.
The most important thing to do at that moment is to run and run as fast as you can.
Bees are known to be able to fly as fast at 12-15mph per hour and if you are unlucky to be chased by Africanized species of honeybees then the chase will even be longer as they are more determined once they get the scent in their nose.
Regular bees can chase a target for 50 yards before giving up and most healthy humans can outrun them. However the best of course of action is to immediately find shelter from the bees.
Bee stings can be painful and harmful and even worse to people who are allergic to bee venom.
An important tip to reduce stings is to cover your face, probably with a net or cloth to reduce the bee stings to essential parts of the face such as the eyes or nose.
How Much Honey Can A Bee Make In Its Lifetime?
Honey is a substance much loved by humans and even other animals. Of the many species of bees in the world, honeybees are the bee species who produce the most amount of honey.
Bumblebees also produce honey and some beekeepers do raise them however they do not make as much honey as a honeybee colony.
A single colony has between 20,000 to 80,000 bees and a honeybee colony can produce as much as 60-100 pounds of honey per year.
Sounds like a daunting task right. However the honeybees are tough and hardy and up to the task.
A single bee in its lifetime makes about one twelfth of a teaspoon and it will take 12 bees to produce a teaspoon of honey.
When calculating how much you expect from your beehive there are some facts to take into consideration.
The worker bee only lives about 5 – 6 weeks and within this time performs a variety of tasks before becoming a forager bee.
Bees also do not forage in cold weather and you’ll see them busy during the spring when the weather is at about fifty five degrees Celsius.
These and other factors can affect exactly how much honey one bee and even the whole colony will produce in a year.
How Far Can A Honey Bee Fly On A Full Belly Of Honey?
The distance a honey bee usually flies to get food is a topic that is still in debate by researchers and scholars.
The bees as we have discovered over time have a mind of their own.
They will fly great distances to search for food for the colony and for the honeybee it’s not the easiest but the best source of food available.
Honeybees are known to ignore closer food sources if it’s not good enough for them.
When the bee goes to forage they ingest the nectar that will be taken back to the colony and keep it in their crop which is transferred to the house bees on their return.
A forager bee can fly as much as 13km and more in search of food. They have to make the return journey after a long day and are burdened with the food products.
What Are The Different Types Of Bee Abilities In A Colony?
It is important to understand the social structure of honeybees and the various tasks they perform to make the colony function.
There are three major types in a honeybee colony and they are the queen, the male drones and the female worker bees.
- The Queen
The bee queen, unlike her human counterpart, does not wield the royal power in reality. The worker bees can supplant her if they feel she is not reproducing enough offspring or pheromone..
The queen mates with the male drones once in her lifetime and stores more than a million sperm in her body and then goes on reproducing eggs for the colony.
The sperm can last her five years which by that time she is too old and is reproduced by a new queen.
At her height a queen can produce about 2000 eggs each day for the colony.
The queen releases a substance that renders the female worker bees fertile and unable to lay eggs and even if they do the eggs will be born as drones.
The male honey bees who are known as the drones do not have any particular usefulness to the colony except to mate the queen during her one in a lifetime mate flight.
They do not perform any tasks in the colony including collecting nectar or pollen or guarding the hive.
The drones do not possess stingers and can only buzz aggressively at perceived threats on the hive.
During the long winter months, the worker bees usually drive them from the colony to be able to conserve the honey reserves for the winter.
- Worker Bees
The worker bee is the most industrious of all the bees. The worker bee carries out a variety of different tasks ranging from nursing the brood, guarding the hive, cleaning the hive to foraging for food and other materials.
Once the worker bee emerges as an adult from the cell, she cleans her cells and then begins to learn the different tasks from the older worker bees.
They start as inhouse bees and do tasks around the hive. Once they are 21 days, they are set as guard bees as they are strongest at this time.
As they get older they go on foraging trips to bring back essential substances for the colony.
A worker bee usually flies about 500 miles in her lifetime before her wings give out and she drops dead.
Also the length of her lifetime depends on the season she was born in as winter bees tend to be more stronger and last a little longer.
How Strong Is A Beehive?
When beekeepers talk about how strong a beehive is they refer to the population of the hive or the number of bees in that colony at the time.
Knowing whether your hive is weak or strong will help you know whether you should reinforce the colony or if they would be able to have enough honey reserves to survive the winter.
Assessing the hive starts with knowing the number of bees you have. A strong colony starts with about 15,000 bees upwards.
Also when you lift the lid of the hive, there should be bees bubbling out or hanging over the lid.
Other ways to assess your hive strength also include checking the brood pattern and development, honey reserves to mention a few.
As humans we have so much to learn from the organization and structure of the bees as they go about their duties.
As we can deduce from these findings, one bee has to go through a lot of flights and hardwork to get the honey substance we all love to use.
So when next you take a teaspoon of honey, remember that a group of hardworking bees had to work themselves off literally to produce that.