7.) Worker bees measure their lives in mere weeks, but queen bees can live up to half a decade or more. Queen bees are not born, but made (there’s a lesson in that). A female larvae is fed massive amounts of a dense liquid secreted from the antenna of workers called royal jelly. The potential queen is, literally, bathed in it. Contrary to myth, this does not change the DNA of the larvae, but only promotes physiological changes…essentially transforming it into a “super bee”. Author Roald Dahl wrote a fantastic story on this metamorphosis.  Read Dahl’s “Royal Jelly” HERE.  

As a wannabe apiarist (beekeeper), I admire the honey bee for the marvelously complex hierarchy of the hive, for its generally benevolent nature and for its agricultural contribution. Every year I buy two or three chunks of uncapped honeycomb and will happily chew a piece every few days.  On a personal level, I find the honey bee’s adapted defense, its sting, a heart-breaking example of evolutionary poetry.

It’s tempting to anthropomorphize wildlife, giving wild animals a range of thoughts and emotions they are physically incapable of having, but sometimes that might have fatal results (consider the case of the Grizzly Man, infamous bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell) for both man and animal. 

But a bee’s self-sacrifice, while encased in a rudimentary brain, is still touching. Consider that, please, before popping off the lid of your industrial wasp killer.