Most people don’t give bees a second thought. These little winged insects, however, are actually very important to the economy and the environment. Bees pollinate our fruits and vegetables (for free!), a job that would be nearly impossible for farmers to do on their own. In addition, these helpful, amazing little creatures are actually much more complex than they appear. The following five facts will change the way you look at bees forever.
1. Bees recognize faces.
Have you ever been outside, enjoying the fresh air, when a bee suddenly starts circling you? You move, only to find that the bee continues to move with you. It’s not a coincidence; bees actually recognize human faces, and they do it in much the same way that we do. The technique is called configural processing, and it involves recognizing that shapes and lines make up a pattern. Studies indicate that bees remember these “patterns” for some time after identifying them.
2. Bees can help with arthritis and MS.
Apitherapy, developed by Dr. Charles Mraz, is an alternative treatment for patients suffering from arthritis and multiple sclerosis. These individuals are stung several times per week in a specific area of the body. The intent is to help with pain and stimulate nerves, and the results are very promising in certain cases.
3. Bees (literally) work themselves to death.
Worker bees can live for around nine months. However, when the weather is warm and the flowers are in full bloom, their time on earth is much shorter. Worker bees are like the energizer bunny; they just keep going and going, and eventually, all that effort takes its toll. Their average life span in the summer is less than six weeks.
4. Bees can protect us.
Believe it or not, it is possible to train bees to detect bombs. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, scientists determined that bees are able to recognize certain odors, including explosive compounds like TATP. Scientists trained the bees to associate these smells with a food reward. When the bees recognized the odor in question, their proboscis was extended, signaling a positive identification to observers.
5. Bees make food for humans.
While you probably realize that bees make honey, what you might not know is that they are the only insect that makes food humans can eat. Not only that, but honey is incredibly good for you; it has vitamins, minerals and enzymes in it. Plus, eating honey is also good for your brain. It has something called “pinocembrin” in it, which is an antioxidant that improves the way your brain functions. A little bit of honey in your diet can go a long way toward improving your overall health!
Bees are actually quite cool. Unfortunately, these insects are dying off for reasons that we don’t fully understand. It is important to do everything we can to protect these amazingly intelligent little creatures. If you have a problem with them at your home or place of business, speak to a knowledgeable pest control company about what can be done to safely handle the problem.