Bee Facts

Updated: 23rd February 2021

Here are some quick bee facts, with links to further information (clicking on each link opens a new window).

Bees really are amazing, and all the time, scientists are discovering something new. 

If you'd like to know specific facts about honey bees only, see this link.

Here, we are taking a look at bees generally:

  • bumble bees,
  • solitary bees and
  • honey bees.

General Bee Facts

Here are some general facts about bees.

  • There are about 25,000 known species of bee in the world – and there are probably more to be discovered. Read more about the different types of bees.
  • The majority of bees are actually solitary species, living not together in social colonies as honey bees and bumble bees do, but alone - although some may build their nests close to each other.
  • Bees have different life spans, depending on the kind of bee, and role within the colony! Read more: How Long Do Bees Live?

bumble bee on pink rose
  • Depending on the species, bees may nest in the ground, or in cavities (such as in tree trunks, or crevices in buildings). Watch mason bees in their bee house. Some species nest on the surface of the ground, on tussocks of grass. Learn more about bee nests.
  • Bees sleep!  That's right, researchers have studied bees, and have learned that they adopt behaviours which would indicate they snooze.
  • Bees eat nectar and pollen, but there are exceptions to this rule, including some stingless bees that eat meat!
  • Bees belong to the insect order, Hymenoptera, along with wasps, ants and sawflies.
cartoon of an image with a box containing the various groups of hymenoptera: bees, ants, wasps & hornets, sawflies
  • Bees are important indicators for the health of the environment. When something is wrong with our bees, something is wrong in the environment!

Bee Facts About Anatomy

  • Bees have different tongue lengths, depending on the species.
  • Bees have 5 eyes – 3 simple eyes on top of the head, and 2 compound eyes, with numerous hexagonal facets. 
  • Bees are trichromatic – just like humans. However, humans base their colour vision on the colours red, green and blue, where as bees base their colour vision on blue, green and UV. Bees cannot see red, but visit red flowers because they are able to see the UV markings on the petals. Read more about how flowers attract their ideal pollinators on my page about Flower Pollination.
  • All bees have two pairs of wings (as do wasps). But identifying and distinguishing between the different types of bees is not always easy! Read more about Bee Identification.
honey bee foraging on purple loosestrife

Bee Facts About Evolution

  • It is believed that bees first appeared about 130 million years ago, along with the first flowering plants (angiosperms).
  • The earliest known fossil bee is of Trigona prisca (Meliponinae), found in amber dating from 74 to 94 million years ago.
  • Bees are believed to have evolved from wasps.

Bee Facts About The Largest And The Smallest!

  • The largest bee in the world is reputed to be Megachile pluto, a leafcutter bee whose females can attain a length of 39 mm (1.5") although apparently, males only grow to about 23 mm (0.9") long.
  • The smallest bee in the world is believed to be Quasihesma clypearis.  The recorded male length is about 1.8mm, with a wing length of about 1.2mm.  The length of the female is recorded as being about 2.1mm in length.  However, there is another contender for the title called  Perdita minima.

Bee Facts - About Pollination

bumble bee on purple knapweed flower, showing hair dusted with fine grains of pollen

  • Bees are outstanding pollinators generally, but some bees are better suited to pollinating certain plants than other bees, depending on the bee’s method for collecting the pollen, the body shape of the bees, the tongue length, flower preference and so on. Some bees may visit a plant, but not actually pollinate it!  Read more about bee pollination.
  • During October 2010, the United Nations published a report, in which they place a value on insect pollination at £134 billion (153bn Euros).  A significant portion of this pollination service is provided by bees (although they are not the only insect pollinators).

Do bees sleep?
Apparently they do, but how do we know?


Image of sleeping honey bees, links to the page 'Do bees sleep?'

Oragne legged furrow bee on knapweed - links toward page - What do bees eat?

Bees eat pollen and nectar

- everyone knows that!

But what else do they eat?


Wacky Fact

Did you know?

If the honey bee queen is removed 
from a hive, within 15 minutes,
the rest of the colony
will know about it!

Read more about the honey bee queen

Home page