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Some facts about honey bees

in Newfoundland and Labrador

  • it takes 12 honey bees to make 1 teaspoon of honey.
  • in a lifespan, on average a honey bee produces 1/12th teaspoon (5 drops) of honey.
  • bees have to visit about 2 million flowers to collect enough nectar to make 1 pound (2.2 kg) of honey.
  • there are three castes of honey bees - queens, workers and drones. The queens and workers are females, the drones males.  The queen spends most of her time laying eggs, the workers are either house bees or foragers (see below), and the drones do nothing other than mate with virgin queens. 
  • the colony produces drones in the spring and summer of the year, but the drones are evicted in the fall because they are a drain on colony resources during the cold winter months;
  • a virgin queen will mate with on average 12 drones which she encounters in a "Drone Congregation Area." This means that large numbers of the worker bees in a colony are half-sisters, with slightly difference characteristics.  This genetic diversity enables the colony to better withstand internal and external environmental challenges such as diseases, cold weather, and pesticide exposure.
  • during the warm season, the lifespan of a honey bee worker is six weeks. She spends the first three weeks of her life as a house bee and the remaining three weeks as a forager (foraging nectar, pollen, water and tree resins for propolis).
  • the duties of house bees include taking care of the brood, drawing wax comb (for brood and honey/pollen storage), cleaning the hive, storing nectar, taking care of the queen, guarding the colony, removing dead bees and debris, etc.
  • for a worker bee, from egg to emergence takes 21 days.
  • honey bees fly at 14.5 to 24 kph.
  • a honey bee gorged with 30 mg of honey can fly about 60 km before running out of fuel.
  • honey bees fly 10-15 trips/day; up to 150 trips/day have been reported.
  • most foraging by honey bees is within 3 km of the hive, but they can fly up to 10-12 km away if resources closer to the hive are scarce.
  • at the height of the season, a honey bee colony will have about 60-80,000 bees. They include the queen, 25,000 house bees, 25,000 older foragers, 300-1000 drones, 9,000 uncapped larvae, 6,000 eggs and  20,000 capped brood incubating.

(much of the above information is from Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile's The Beekeeper's Handbook. 2011. Cornell University Press).


Photo P. ArmitagePhoto P. ArmitageOur bees are among the healthiest in the World!

    What distinguishes Newfoundland and Labrador from most of Europe and the rest of North America is the good health of our bees, and their freedom from the pathogens, pests, and diseases that plague beekeeping elsewhere.  Thanks to our isolation from mainland North America and the prudent policies of the provincial government with its importation restrictions, the province is free of Varroa destructor mite, tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi), small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella), lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella), and American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae). 


Please help protect our honey bees!  To learn more about how you can protect Newfoundland and Labrador's honey bee stocks, click here.