By Lindsey Wilson

Bees are cool.  Here are five interesting factoids you can spout off to your kids, friends, neighbors, etc, and wow them with your worldly knowledge.  Or just take a moment to marvel about how cool these little beasties are.

1. There are between 20,000 and 30,000 different species in the world. In North America there are between 3,000 and 4,000.  New species are found every year.  Really.  Every year! And they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. ”Where are most bees found,” you’re wondering?  The deserts.  Unlike butterflies, beetles, monkeys, hummingbirds, frogs, sloths, and many, many other creatures, bees love dry heat, and are most diverse in the hot and dry places of the world.

2. Most of them don’t live in hives. In fact, only bumblebees and honeybees live in hives (and a few species in the tropics).  The rest build fantastic homes in the ground, inside twigs and decaying wood, in sandstone, even in snail shells.  Some even build them out of mud and small rocks, like a mason.  Many of them even line the insides of their nest with flower petals, or plant wool.

3.  Most bees don’t make honey. Only the ‘hive bees’ really do that.  And even then, bumblebees don’t make nearly as much honey as honeybees do.  ”Do they make something else instead” you’re wondering?  Nope.  Not really.

4. Only female bees can sting. The stinger on a bee serves double-duty; it is both a stinger and an ovipositor (egg-layer).  Since males aren’t laying eggs, they don’t have a stinger. 

5. Bees are vegetarians. All those nasty flying creatures that buzz around while you’re grilling?  Those aren’t bees. Those are wasps (cousins to the bees), and flies (second-cousins, twice-removed).  Here’s a more official approach to telling them apart.

Bees pollinate something like 70% of the flowering plants you see.  What’s more they help in the pollination of almost all of the colorful fruits and veggies you eat–everything from kiwis to coffee, apples to avocados, squash, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, coriander, and peppers.

Bees are awesome.


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