Bees are nature’s superheroes and honey has mind-blowing super powers! Beehives hold a treasure chest of miraculous ‘bee-haviour’ and that is why Taronga Zoo with the help of Burt’s Bees wants to invite you in to the secret life of bees with the addition of our new observation hive at Backyard to Bush.
Bees have played a vital role in our ecosystem since the dawn of time, pollinating 1/3 of the food we eat, producing honey for at least 150 million yearsand they continue to do this today. There are over 20,000 known bee species pollinating our world, with over 1600 species of native bees right here in Australia. However for this story we are going to talk to you about the Honeybee. Honeybees are social animals living in a complex society with a beehive usually housing around 40,000 bees!
The Honeybee is not only the most amazing creature in the insect world, it also happens to be the hardest working creature in the animal kingdom. Inside the beehive each bee has a special job to do so the whole process runs smoothly; with a queen, security guards, builders and repairers, cleaners, nurses, undertakers, heating and cooling technicians, scouts, honey makers, pollen stampers, store workers and collectors of nectar, pollen and water. During her lifetime, each worker bee performs a number of these different tasks, and with great dedication.
Worker bees start out from the hive for blossom patches when three weeks old. As they live to be only six or seven weeks old, they have much work to do and little time in which to do it. It takes 768 bees visiting approximately 2 million flowers, over 88,514 kilometres to produce 450grams of honey and on average a worker bee will make 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime!
Bees are cooler than you ever knew. Learning about the secret life of bees goes beyond the sweet taste of honey, they are arguably the most important animal on our planet and we humans need to change some of our behaviours to help them and their busy existence to continue buzzing well into the future:
- Lose the pesticides and nasty garden sprays. Ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises will naturally keep pest populations in check.
- Plant. Plant. Plant. Bees are having a difficult time of it trying to find food sources. More lawn, more cement, more sprays and pesticides mean a decline in flowers and pollinator plants. It is literally becoming like a desert out there for our busy bees. Just one flowering plant can change the landscape for bees.
- Live in a home without a garden or have limited space? You need only a small plot of land—it can even be a window container, vertical garden or rooftop—to create an inviting oasis for bees. Every little bit can help to nurture bees and other pollinators.
- Create a ‘bee bath.’ Bees need a place to get fresh, clean water. Fill a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on while drinking. Make sure to maintain the container full of fresh water to ensure they know they can return to the same spot every day.
- Support local farmers and local beekeepers by buying local honey.
BEE WILD. FOR THE WILD.