Four surprising facts you didn’t know about bees

How much do you know about our planet's bees? Let's test your knowledge with four surprising facts.

Save the bees

Yu Chan Chen via Flickr | Public Domain
There are more than 20,000 different species of bees across the world.

Saving the bees is one of our top priorities. These special pollinators are uniquely important to our ecosystems and incredibly fascinating despite their small size.

In honor of these buzzing, bumbling bees, here are a few things you may not know about these iconic insects with their yellow-and-black stripes.

Fact #1: Bees have pollen saddlebags

Some bees have saddlebags that they fill with pollen to bring back to their hives. Bees also love prairie habitat, so it’s easy to imagine a bumblebee in a minuscule cowboy hat saddling up to explore new frontiers and find the best pollen in the Wild West.

These tiny pollen pouches on their hind legs allow bees to store much more food to bring back to their families. Bees secure the pollen with the long hairs that grip the saddlebags as they fly home. Bee-haw!

Fact #2: There are over 20,000 unique bee species

Worldwide, there are over 20,000 different species of bees. Throughout the United States, about 4,000 of those unique bee species can be found buzzing through the air.

They can be differentiated based on their size, color and favorite flowers. For instance, Perdita minima is the smallest bee in the world, clocking in at less than two millimeters long. You’d be hard-pressed to spot this tiny bee in the sandy Southwest desert.

Other bees are known by their particular taste in flowers. The squash bee specializes in pollinating zucchini, butternut squash, pumpkins and other gourds.

And there are several vibrant, colorful bees that deviate from the classic striped pattern of black and yellow. Bees can be metallic blue, brilliant green and golden amber. Sweat bees are one group of bee species that tend to be metallic green or blue.

Fact #3: Bees love to dance

Bees know how to cut a rug with their waggle dances.

Honeybees are skilled communicators, but their preferred form of communication is similar to an interpretative dance. Honeybees perform a waggle dance to communicate about pollen sources, potential threats and even possible new beehives to call home.

What’s more fun than a dancing bee?

Fact #4: Pesticides are poisoning bees

Bees buzz in all kinds of habitat, from your home garden to farms to fields of wildflowers. But when our landscapes are saturated with bee-killing pesticides, safe havens for the bees are few and far between.

Pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, are toxic to bees. They even poison baby bees’ brains. Plus, research is now suggesting another pesticide, glyphosate, is causing harm to bees as well. To save the bees, these pesticides need to go.

We’re prioritizing pollinator protection because bees are particularly in danger — from toxic pesticides, habitat loss and even climate change. Together with advocates like you, we can take steps to protect bees, including stopping the worst uses of neonics and preserving critical bee habitat.

As 2022 draws to a close, we’ve set the goal to raise $200,000 to help protect the bees as part of our Year-End Drive. You can help us save the bees by donating to Environment New Jersey today. 

Will you donate to protect pollinators and other wildlife?

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