With the blossoms bursting and the warm weather balming our days, look out for the humble bees. They are essential to life as we know it and much of the food that we grow here would not be possible without our most vital pollinators.
Here are six things you might not know about bees:
- Bees have been producing honey in the same way for over 150 million years, and the first record of people keeping bees was in Spain about 6000BC
- A hive needs 20-30lbs of honey to survive an average winter, but the bees are capable of collecting up to 60lbs, given the space – which is what beekeepers encourage.
- Honeybees have five eyes in the centre of their head: two large compound eyes and three smaller ocelli eyes. They can see in colour and are sensitive more to the blue end of the light spectrum and into ultraviolet. Flowers reflect large amounts of ultraviolet light and will appear very bright to a bee.
- The type of honey made by the bees changes according to the type of foliage and flowers available to the bees in the area near their hives. Honey can be hard-set, clear and liquid or have a jelly consistency depending on the crops that have been pollinated.
- Bees will fly up to three miles from their hives to collect pollen from hedgerows, fruit trees and wildflowers.
- A honeybee only stings under two conditions: to protect the colony or when frightened.