10 Reasons Why the Honey Bee is the Most Amazing Insect on the Planet
Age-defying brains. A substance that never spoils. How much do you really know about the small, yet magnificent Honey Bee? Continue on, to find out 10 incredible facts about bees and the all-powerful honey they produce!
1. Bees have a precise sense of smell
With 170 odorant receptors compared to only 62 in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitoes. Their exceptional olfactory abilities include kin recognition signals, social communication within the hive, and odor recognition for finding food.
They can even differentiate hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carries pollen or nectar from meters away!
Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; not to mention it's the only food that contains Pinocembrin-—an antioxidant that is associated with improved brain functioning. (#beesmart!)
3. Bees are incredibly intelligent
Despite having a brain about the size of a sesame seed, bees have a remarkable capacity to learn and remember things, and are able to make complex calculations on distance and traveled foraging efficiency.
4. Only worker bees sting
Only if they feel threatened! Considering they die once they sting, they tend not to be aggressors.
The Queen has a stinger, but they never leave the hive to help defend it. It is estimated that 1100 honey bee stings are required to be fatal.
“The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them”
-Saint Francis de Sales
5. Their sting has some benefits (Really!)
A toxin in bee venom called melittin may prevent HIV. Melittin can kill HIV by poking holes into the virus's protective envelope. (Meanwhile, when melittin hitches a ride on certain nanoparticles, it will just bounce off normal cells and leave them unharmed.) Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis hope the toxin can be used in preventative gels.
6. When their job changes, their brain chemistry changes.
Bees are hardwired to do certain jobs. Scout bees, which search for new sources of food, are wired for adventure.
Soldier bees, discovered in 2012, work as security guards their whole life. One percent of all middle-aged bees become undertakers—a genetic brain pattern compels them to remove dead bees from the hive.
But most amazingly, regular honeybees—which perform multiple jobs in their lifetime—will change their brain chemistry before taking up a new gig.
7. Their brains defy time!
When aging bees do jobs usually reserved for younger members, their brain stops aging. In fact, their brain ages in reverse. Scientists at Arizona State University believe the discovery can help us slow the onset of dementia.
8. Honey never spoils!
When sealed in an airtight container, honey is one of the few foods known to have an eternal shelf life. There are even reports of edible honey being found in several-thousand-year-old Egyptian tombs. Honey’s longevity can be explained by its chemical makeup: The substance is naturally acidic and low in moisture, making it an inhospitable environment for bacteria.
9. A lot of hard work from bees goes into imbuing honey with these magical properties!
While transforming nectar (honey’s main ingredient) into honey, bees flap their wings so hard that they draw excess moisture out of the initially water-filled substance. Bees also have a special enzyme in their stomachs that helps to break the nectar down into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide, the latter of which acts to further prevent the growth of bacteria and other organisms in the honey.
10. Honey is medicinal.
Evidence of honey being prescribed as a medical treatment dates back as far as ancient Mesopotamia. Because the substance is so inhospitable to bacteria, it was often used as a natural bandage to protect cuts and burns from infection. Today, honey is still used as a natural treatment for dandruff, stomach ulcers, and even seasonal allergies!
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