As a new beekeeper, you will have many questions on your journey. We’ve compiled this (growing) list of questions about bees in the hopes that it will assist you along the way! If you still have questions about bees, then just let us know in the comment section and we’ll be happy to answer it!
FAQ: Can bees fly in the rain?
Have you ever watched the animation movie ‘Ants’ or ‘A bugs life’? When it rains, they make the raindrops sound like missiles. The reality for bees isn’t that dramatic. It’s normal to see them go about foraging during a light shower. But there’s no way they’ll leave the safety of their haven during a thunderstorm.
What’s even more interesting is that they have their own intuitive weather channel. Studies have shown that bees behave differently before a storm. They have been found to forage the evening before a storm, so it seems they can sense the changes in air pressure long before the storm hits. They also tend to get less charitable with their honey stores so you’ll notice that they’ll be more aggressive at that time.
FAQ: Can bees kill you?
Yes, but in different ways. If you have an allergy to bee venom, one sting could send you to the hospital. For the rest of us without an allergy, you could be stung to death. In cases such as those, the victim suffers thousands of bee stings.
Imagine the pain and swelling you get when you suffer just one bee sting. Multiply that torment thousands of times. Each sting delivers a dose of bee venom, and too much of that will kill you. So, if you come across a hive that you are not familiar with, especially in the wild, simply walk away.
FAQ: Can bees die from exhaustion?
Yes. The primary killer of worker bees is exhaustion. During the inactive months, bees can live for 6 months. When the flowers start to bloom, the workers dedicate every joule of energy to foraging and caring for the hive and they die of exhaustion in 6 weeks. This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “this job will be the death of me”.
FAQ: Can bees see in the dark?
Bees have poor night vision. In Africa, most of the harvesting activity happens in the evening and in traditional log hives at night.
With a Langstroth hive like this, the bees crawl out of the hive instead of flying right straight out. They rely on their other senses such as touch and scent through their antennae. So they are quite capable of defending the hive even in the dark
FAQ: Can bees carry Lymes disease?
No. Ticks pass this horrific gift to human hosts by attaching themselves to a victim for 24-48 hours. The tick gets infected by the bacteria after feeding on infected mammals such as mice. So unless a bee goes for a major lifestyle change, it wouldn’t contract the bacteria.
Furthermore, the tick has to attach itself to your skin for an extended amount of time. Bees sting, detach the stings from the rest of their bodies and go off to die. That would be too fast for the bacteria to set in.
FAQ: Can bees smell fear?
When thousands of bees come at you, they are more likely spurred on by your presence and the pheromones left by the remnants of a bee sting, than your fear. When a bee stings you, it leaves an odour that signals the rest like a bull’s eye.
Also, when you consider how jerky and clumsy you get, it’s easy to cause further offence to the bees. Bees require a steady hand when dealing with them. Swatting and flailing just cause them more agitation.
FAQ: Can all bees sting?
No. First of all, there are thousands of different bee species. Most people know about bumble bees and honey bees, but they have so many cousins and some of them don’t bear arms… I’m sorry, stings.
In a honey bee colony, only the girls can wield the bee swords, the drones are left defenceless.
Nature doesn’t like waste and a drone has nothing to defend, so why adorn him with such a great weapon? Therefore, if you come across a drone, you have absolutely nothing to fear from it.
If you happen to be in Brazil, they have over 400 species of stingless bees that produce honey.
FAQ: Can bees bite?
Yes. According to a study by one Dr Alexandros Papachristoforou, they reserve that piece of the arsenal for pests you’d find inside the hive, like mites and wax moths.
People are a little too big for their mandibles so all you need to worry about is the sting.
The bite allows them to inject an anaesthetic into their intruder which paralyses them and allows the bees to remove the pest from the hive. Imagine if bouncers at the club had the same abilities.
FAQ: Can bees communicate with each other?
Absolutely. Foragers use dance to direct their sisters to a new source of nectar. Scout bees use sound to alert the colony to prepare to swarm. As for the queen, her pheromones are what unite the colony.
In fact, when the colony is really great in number, some workers can lose touch with the queen, and since nature hates a vacuum, they start to raise a new queen. It’s a typical example of what happens when management loses touch with the workforce.
FAQ: Can bees hear?
Yes… well, sort of. They can detect sound by sensing the movement of the air particles around them caused by sound vibrations.
It explains how effective the waggle dance is despite it taking place in a pretty dark room. Since they are without traditional auditory organs, it is believed that they detect sound through their antennae.
The frequency that they can detect is quite low, so don’t go hooking up speakers to serenade them with the latest hits.
FAQ: Can bees sting dogs?
Yes, they can. Wild swarms have been known to kill dogs on occasion, but this isn’t a common occurrence. The only mammals that seem unperturbed by bee stings are skunks and bears because they have very thick skin so the stings don’t make it very far. Dogs may be cuddly, but there’s more hair than skin there so it’s a poor defence when it comes to stings.
FAQ: Do bees sting other bees?
Bees, as industrial as they are, do have some vices, one of which is robbing. Italian bees are particularly notorious bandits. Sometimes it’s brought on when you have a feeder that’s accessible from outside the hive, or during a nectar dearth.
The victims don’t let their loot go without a fight and that’s when bees wind up stinging other bees. This is different from the suicide mission they go on when they are defending the hive from mammals with soft flesh.
With other bees, the stinger doesn’t rip the bee apart because the barbs don’t hook onto the exoskeleton. So the bees sting and live to tell their sisters about it.
FAQ: Can bees drink water?
They can and they do. They need it for sustenance just like we do. They also need it to cool the hive which they do by putting it in a cell in the honeycomb then fanning it like crazy causing it to evaporate. For the evaporation to take place, the water has to absorb some of the heat thereby cooling the hive. It’s hard work but it is effective.
FAQ: Can bees get high?
Not exactly. In order to get high, your brain has neuroreceptors that bind with the chemicals that cause an altered neurophysiological reaction. Basically, their sensory organs are not equipped to get high.
Although there was a study that found bees are partial to the nectar that contains caffeine, that would be addictive and would keep the bee going back to that flower. Even so, that wouldn’t get them high. The most they can hope for is a good buzz (see what I did there?).
FAQ: Can bees be black?
Yes. Not all species of bees are yellow with black stripes (or is it black with yellow stripes). Some carpenter bees are black and mason bees resemble flies because of their dark colour. Even honey bees differ in hues from one race to another, though I’m yet to come across a completely black honey bee. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist though.
FAQ: Can bees and Wasps coexist?
Not all wasps are keen on bee meat. We know of hornets and yellow jackets because they have a taste for bee larvae and they attack and kill colonies.
Other wasps, depending on their natural surroundings, are happier targeting other insects such as grasshoppers. Therefore, it is possible to find them living around the same area, even though they will never be roommates.
FAQ: Can bees swim?
If they can, they aren’t particularly good at it. When providing water for your bees, you are required to offer some floatation device, in the form of some small sticks or gravel in order to keep them from drowning. They even drown in syrup, for instance when the feed is placed in a frame feeder. It is vital to remember to add some small twigs to prevent drowning.
FAQ: Can bees count?
Surprisingly, Yes…well, sort of. According to the ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science in Australia, scientists have determined that bees can recognize a pattern with up to 3 elements such as dots, and scientists believe they can be trained to recognize a pattern with 4 elements. Looks like your worker bees are ready for pre-school.
FAQ: Can you move a bees’ nest?
Yes you can. The question you need to ask yourself is “Is this absolutely necessary?” With all the trouble that various bee species are going through just to keep from extinction, we need to cut them a break.
If it is deemed absolutely necessary, moving the nest must be done with the utmost care, in order to ensure that the bees are not harmed in the process.
The exercise is usually carried out at night. All the bees are home and you want to move all of them. Foragers don’t have a tracking device on their homes. If the home moves, they keep going to the same spot waiting for it to come back.
FAQ: Can all bees make honey?
No. Drones, for instance, do not forage and therefore not interested or capable of making honey. Solitary bees such as the mason bee only drink nectar for energy and store pollen for their larvae.
Once they have laid their eggs and packed them lunch to get through their entire childhood, they complete their cycle of life and death. They don’t need honey because they don’t live long enough to enjoy it.
FAQ: Can bees blink?
No. They need eyelids to blink and they don’t have those. They have hair on their eyes that they wipe clean with their legs in order to clear their vision.
FAQ: Can bees be trained?
Absolutely, though you won’t be playing catch with them anytime soon. There was some research that went into getting bees to detect explosives by training them to respond to the smell of certain explosive materials. It’s amazing what we do for science. That said, I wouldn’t recommend that you take that up as a hobby.
FAQ: Can bees be smoked out?
The use of smoke in beekeeping is to keep the bees calm. When you blow smoke their way, it breaks up their main communication channel, which is through pheromones. Since they don’t know what exactly is going on, they proceed with their exit plan which happens on a full stomach.
They gorge themselves with honey and then focus on keeping the queen safe. As a result, they always move away from the smoke but they will stay in the hive to protect their queen. If you have a colony that has moved into your ceiling or walls, you will need more than smoke to get them out.
FAQ: Can bees change their gender?
No, but sometimes they can switch roles. Well, drones can’t, but the workers can. Nurse bees tend to be young and charged with the work of caring for the young and building honeycomb. If the need is great, foragers can take up this role, though they are not as good at it as the younger members of the crew.
When things go wrong, worker bees can lay eggs and those hatch into drones because the eggs are unfertilized. That is a symptom of a problem and warrants immediate attention.