Fascinating Honeybee Facts

Honey is a 100% pure and natural sweetener made and stored in honey comb by honey bees. Nearly one million tonnes of honey is produced worldwide every year. See below for more fascinating honeybee facts.

Honey bees capping the honey comb

  • There are over 300 different species of bee in the UK and bees have been present in Britain for about 30 million years.
  • Bees are responsible for pollinating a third of the crops we eat.
  • Honeybees fly at an average speed of 20 mph, in flight a honeybee beats its wings around 180 times per minute!
  • Honeybees sleep, and can often be found catching a snooze on a flower.
  • Honeybees are the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
  • A colony of honeybees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen.
  • A honeybee will visit between 50-100 flowers during one trip.
  • A queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day.
  • Worker honeybees are female. They live for 6 to 8 weeks and do all the work.
  • The male honeybees are called drones. They don't do any work as such, their main role is to reproduce. They have no stinger.
  • Honeybees communicate with one another by "dancing". This special Waggle dance tells other worker bees, back in the hive, the location of water or good forage for example. This is very efficient and saves other honeybees visiting the same patch of flowers.
  • A queen honey bee can control the colony by producing a unique odour or pheromone. This unique "smell" helps to identify colony members and stops female workers becoming fertile and breeding.
  • To collect a pound of honey a honeybee might have to fly a distance equivalent to twice round the world. This is likely to involve more than 10,000 flower visits on perhaps 500 foraging trips.
  • In the UK there are approximately 44,000 beekeepers looking after around 240,000 hives, they produce around 6000 tonnes of honey per year.
  • We produce only 20% of the honey we consume - the rest is imported.
  • Honeybees are able to detect and use gravity to navigate whilst in total darkness within the hive.
  • Honeybees can see near-ultraviolet light. Many flowers, have patterns that are invisible to humans unless illuminated by UV.
  • A survey of British Beekeepers' Association members found honeybee numbers declined by 30% during winter 2007/8 - a loss of more than 2 billion bees at a cost of £54 million to the economy.
  • The annual economic contribution that honeybee pollination makes to agriculture in this country is approximately £165 million.