Celebrating World Bee Day: Fun facts about the honey bee

They may be referred to as 'the humble honey bee', but the bee population can boast some impressive statistics. 

The crucial role they play is being highlighted on the United Nations second annual 'World Bee Day.'

It aims to raise awareness of the important role of bees, the threats they face and their contribution to global sustainable development.

Those roles include pollinators to provide food, food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, climate change mitigation and a healthy environment.

It also recognises that bees are key to conserving biodiversity and are a cornerstone of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

'World Bee Day' coincides with a southern hemisphere season where New Zealand's hives are wintering down in preparation for the colder months.

Chief Executive of Apiculture New Zealand, Karin Kos said honey bees play a critical role in New Zealand communities and the economy.

"Not only does the honey bee provide us with a great source of natural food, but it also plays a critical role as a commercial pollinator in our agriculture and horticulture sectors," she said.

She said the day is also a way to raise awareness of the threats facing bee populations.
"While our country's bee colony losses are significantly lower than other countries, we can't afford to be complacent - especially with global scale challenges such as urban creep and threats to our biodiversity," said Kos.

"We encourage New Zealanders to celebrate the humble honey bee on World Bee Day and learn more about the important role they play and how they can help bees and support bee health."  

Fun bee facts:

-Bees have been producing honey for at least 150 million years.
-Bees use their antennae to smell. They can detect nectar 2km away.
-On one flight from the hive to collect honey, a honey bee will visit between 50 and 100 flowers.
-A bee must visit about four million flowers to produce 1kg of honey.
-One beehive of honey bees can produce up to 150kg of honey per year.
Worker bees produce about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetimes.