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Bees: Top 10 Questions

May 2013

Thanks to Dr. Ron Bitner, entomologist and vintner, Caldwell; and Kirk Tubbs, berry farmer and beekeeper, Twin Falls for the answers.

1: Why do bees sting?

Honey bees are really small and they have to protect their winter food. Their stinger is their way of defending their food. They've evolved in a way to protect themselves against something big like a bear. Bees don't like to sting unless they have to because when they sting, they die. It's something they do only if they absolutely have to. When you step on a bee, it stings as it feels it's going to die. (From Ledger at Kamiah Elementary School in Kamiah)

2: Why do bees pollinate flowers?

The pollen is the protein source for the bees to lay their eggs on. It's a benefit to the flower because bees move pollen from flower to flower and this lets the seeds develop. (From John at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

3: Why is there a queen bee?

The queen bee is the one that helps regulate the hive. She has her smell, her pheromones, that calm and regulate activity. She lays all of the eggs and without her, the hive would cease to function. The individual bee is not as important as the colony. Bees work together in a group and each bee is important to the group, but each bee, by itself, couldn't survive. (From Molly at Berkswich Primary School in Staffordshire, England)

4: Why do bees have four wings?

In the insect world, wings are used for flight. With bees, the four wings operate a bit like a helicopter. The wings allow them to go where they need to go. Up, down, sideways . . . they can explore the flowers, as they need to. (From Bridget at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)

5: Do bees have a favorite food?

Bees can tell how sweet something is when they taste it. If they find a fruit or flower with a nice nectar, they will go back and tell the rest about it. So, they tend to go to the richest nectar source, or whichever has the highest sugar concentration. (From Jasmine at Berkswich Primary School in Staffordshire, England)

6: Why do bees live in hives?

The hive is just a place to protect the bees. Bees live together in a colony, a big group. The hive is a place to protect them as they work together. (From Bogey at Kamiah Elementary School in Kamiah)

7: Are bees intelligent and do they play?

There are different forms of intelligence. We regard the honey bee as intelligent because of her behavior. She can learn a lot and her workers can learn a lot in addition to giving directions. They have their own language. With solitary bees, you have hard-working female bees pollinating the flowers, and the males are flying around and checking things out. Bees are very smart. They figure things out very quickly. (From Alex at Berkswich Primary School in Staffordshire, England)

8: How many different types of bees are there in the world?

In the world, there are 20,000 different kinds of bees. There are 10 different kinds of honey bees in the world, although we just have one kind here in the United States. There are around 4,000 different kinds of bees in the western states. In Idaho alone, we have several thousand different kinds of bees. (From Millie at Basin Elementary School in Idaho City)

9: How do bees buzz?

The buzz you hear is the sound of their wings. They vibrate their wings and we hear that sound as a buzz. Each insect and how they move their wings has a slightly different sound. (From Freya at Berkswich Primary Elementary School in Staffordshire, England)

10: Why are bees covered in hair?

The hair helps them collect pollen. The pollen sticks to the hair, and when they go from flower to flower it is transferred around. Hair also helps them to haul pollen back to the hive. (From McKenzie at Dalton Elementary School in Dalton Gardens)


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