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5 myths about bees

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There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees. Most do not fit our idea of ​​this insect. Some even move away from the archetypes we associate with bees. Discover some of the most common myths about bees and see how to correct them.

There are big differences between the breeds of bees. Here are some facts you may not know.

Myth 1: All bees produce honey

Only honeybees and stingless bees produce enough honey to be useful for humans to pick. There are fewer than ten species of honeybees with sting and less than 450 species of honeybees without sting. Bumblebees, which include 260 species, have a teaspoon or two of honey in their nest. In short, less than 5% of all bee species produce honey.

Myth 2: All bees sting

The sting is a modified spawning organ. As a result, only female bees have a sting. Nevertheless, females of several species of bees are unable to bite. In these, the sting is present in whole or in part, but it does not act. In some cases, the sting is no longer there.

Myth 3: Bees live in complex societies

Honey bees and stingless bees live in permanent societies characterized by a complex division of tasks. They have queens, as well as workers assigned to specific tasks such as monitoring swarms, ejecting dead subjects from the colony and defending the colony. Other bees live in smaller, simpler societies that rarely last more than one summer. Bumblebees and some worker bees are examples of these short social groupings. Most bees are solitary; a solitary female builds a nest, accumulates the food she needs to raise a baby, lays an egg on these foods and repeats these operations tirelessly. The social interactions of most bees are limited to mating and egg-laying; 90% of the bee species have few social relations between them.

Myth 4: Bees live in colonies

Only socially evolved bees live in colonies. Since most bee species are solitary, they do not live in colonies. They nest alone in nests dug in the ground; some of them turn the dens into insects abandoned by insects in the wood or in hollow stems. Others nest in mud or resin and lay their eggs on hard surfaces.

Myth 5: Bees work hard

“Active as a bee,” as the saying goes. Honeybees, drones and spineless honey bees have a reputation for being very industrious. On the other hand, male bees work very little in the nest and the females of most solitary bees can only work for a few weeks. Some species of bees do not build a nest and do not make provisions. We can think of psithyros or cuckoos, who lay their eggs in the nests of other species of bees. There are also bees with parasitic habits that settle in the nests of social bees, replace the queen and turn her female offspring into slaves for the education of their own little ones.

Dr. Monika Mathur

Ph.D Yale University

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