How Far Do Honey Bees Travel?
You meet them everywhere- near your pool drinking water, on the streets, on the gardens foraging for nectar. Honeybees are everywhere.
Have you ever tried following them to see where they go? I guess that would almost impossible; you’ll lose track of them faster than you think.
But you would be surprised to learn that the honeybee you see everywhere might have covered miles and miles to reach there.
Just How Far Can a Honey Bee Fly?
Honeybees have been observed to travel for long distances- between 1-6 km. But that’s not the limit; the researcher has even recorded miles as long as 13.5km and even 20 km!
This brings to one fact about the bees: they’re not doorstep foragers. They tend to collect the nectar needed to make honey far, far away.
Besides collecting nectar, bees also like sending scout bees to search for better places for the other colony members to forage.
It’s, however, important to note research on how far a honeybee travel has shown different results, even for the same species. This means that several factors affect the distances the bees travel.
Honeybees Fly The Longest
The bee travel distance, when compared to their types of bees, saw that the former travel the farthest.
For instance, the bumblebee has recorded distances of between 100m and 1.7km.
Solitary bees seem to travel over smaller distances to look for food. Some species has shown distances as far as 1-2.4km
How To Determine The Travel Distance of a Honeybee
If you might wondering how the scientists conduct studies like this one, I’ll explain to you two of the top methods they employ to get results.
These methods are known as:
1. Homing Experiment
Using Homing Experiment to find out how far a honeybee flies:
Based on the fact that honeybee has homing abilities, this study involves removing them from their nest, and freeing them to various distances and then waiting to see if they’d return.
Janzen employed this method in 1971 using the Euglossine honeybee and found that it was able to travel back home from a distance as far as 23km! Other bees flew for distances as far as 12, 14, 20, and 23km.
Not only that, they returned with their baskets full of pollen- a substantial evidence of foraging.
2. Marking bees
In this particular study, scientists mark the bees. They then search the surrounding for the marked bees and obtain their measurements from their respective hives.
However, this method has its fair share of problems. Firstly, it can lead to observer bias, given that scientists search for smaller distances around the nest.
To solve this issue, the researcher must extend their observations to merely 1km so that they’d have to make a thorough search of 3.1 sq. km.
If you thought that honeybees just wander around their nest, you’re totally wrong. As we’ve discussed above, these insects can cover longer distances of over 20 km as they forage for nectar necessary for making honey. And as they gather nectar, they assist in plant pollination.