Sometimes I stop and play with the bees. When I do, I try to watch for things I’ve never noticed before. This time, I held this lady bee in my hand and noticed her tattered wings, and her balding back, and her labored movements – it was obvious she was one of the “old ladies” of the hive. In fact, I got the impression she didn’t plan to go back home (sad face).
Worker bees are famous for working themselves to death, flying until they can’t fly anymore, providing resources to the hive and always putting the hive first. There’s even documentation of old or sick bees intentionally leaving the hive and never returning. From my human perspective, it’s such a sad thing to think about – very unceremonious.
I am often shocked and humbled by the bees and how utilitarian they can bee and this was no exception. And so I write… I write about this little old bee and all the old bees before her and recognize their work and dedication to their colony.
I hate to see honey bees dying even when the reality is they don’t live long, so today I’ll celebrate the productive little life of this lovely lady and reflect on how the most important thing is the survival of the colony, the good of the hive.
I’m thankful for this old bee and for the gentle reminder she gave me as she rested on my palm. Beekeeping is always an adventure.
So as to save this post from disappointing my more analytical/technical readers, I decided this was a good place to put some of those nifty honey bee facts we’ve all come to know and love. (Many may not have sources because I can’t remember where I heard them… forgive me.)
- A single honey bee makes 1/12 a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime
- A single honey bee can fly 55,000 miles in her life (that’s twice around the world people)
- A single honey bee flaps her wings 12,000 times per minute
- A single honey bee can fly 15 miles per hour
These are pretty simple but nevertheless impressive facts that always blow my mind when I stop to think about them. So, let’s hear it for those little worker bees! 🙂