Bees are amazing creatures, as much of our food would no longer exist without their pollinating ways. Of course, bees are good for a lot of things, and not just pollination. However, the services that bees provide to the agricultural community cannot be overstated. Not long ago, biologists from the University of San Diego confirmed that honeybees are easily the most significant plant pollinating insects in the world. Honeybees are the most frequent pollinators of both naturally occurring flowers and crops plants. This is a pretty big feat for an insect with a brain the size of a pinhead. In addition to their pollinating activities, bees are also the only insects that produce food that humans eat. Obviously, this food is honey, and in order for one single bee to produce a pound of honey, the bee would have to travel around the world three times and gather nectar from over two million flowers. That is a whole 90,000 miles worth of flying, and enough flowers to fulfill the market demand during Valentine’s Day. Now that is pretty productive. So how do bees stay productive enough to pollinate flowers and many of the world’s crops? The answer is “bearding”, and this consists of regulating their own body temperature in order to survive harsh conditions that would probably kill most other insect species.
In order for bees to fulfill their ecological duties, they must be active nearly all year long. In order to survive extreme heat and cold, bees will indulge in an activity that is commonly known as bearding. Bearding is how a bee maintains a survivable temperature in spite of harsh weather. For example, during the hot summer months, a beehive should be between 90 and 95 degrees. If a hive becomes hotter than this, bees will lower their body temperature with excessive wing flapping. Sometimes, bees will even gather water droplets and place them at a hive’s entrance before fanning the water puddle. Doing this creates a form of air conditioning in the beehive. Of course, bees generate a lot of heat when they flap their wings in a hive in order to stay cool. In order to reduce this heat, bees will collectively arrange themselves in a manner that allows hot air to flow out of the hive, and this is what is referred to as “bearding”. Apparently, the way in which the bees arrange themselves outside of the hive resembles a beard.
Can you think of any insect that may give bees a run for their money in the brains department?