September 2004: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 3

The Amazing Bees

Sura (Chapter) 16 of the Quran is called “the Bee.” Although the sura talks about many interesting matters, God chose that name because of its importance. The bees are one of these miracles of God. We should look at them, learn from them and remember to say, Subhana Allah, God be Glorified, or Mashaa Allah, This is gift from God. It is the will of God to give us these beautiful creatures to serve us.

It is interesting to note that the female bees, not the male bees are the ones who build the hives. This information was not known when the Quran was given to the Prophet Muhammad over 1400 years ago, but God knew. God in the Quran used the words that mean the female bees are the ones to build the hives.

Cross-pollination is that wonderful miracle of God by which pollen from one flower combines with the underdeveloped seeds of another to produce developed seeds that will grow into more flowers.

Bees are the chief engineers of cross-pollination. If it were not for them, half of our most beautiful flowers would disappear. The honeybee, which uses pollen as food for its young, does the most work and covers the most territory. Also, she has better pollen baskets than the bumblebee. These baskets consist of rows of stiff bristles on the hind legs. By packing pollen moistened with honey between these hairs, the bee can accumulate a ball of pollen sometimes as large as a quarter inch in diameter and containing 100,000 grains.

Bees work at amazing speed. On the head of a thistle a honeybee, thrusting her nose into one flower after another, can pollinate at the rate of about 30 flowers per minute!

Usually bees gather from only one kind of flower at a time. When two different flowers of the same dark purple color grew side by side, bees were noted to nearly collide in air, but never did a bee touch the pollen of the wrong flower.

Atef K., M.D.

Did you know...

• Bees maintain a temperature of 92-93 degrees Fahrenheit in their central brood nest regardless of whether the outside temperature is 110 or -40 degrees.
• Honeybees produce beeswax from eight paired glands on the underside of their abdomen.
• Honeybees must consume about 17-20 pounds of honey to be able to biochemically produce each pound of beeswax.
• Honeybees can fly up to 14 kilometers from their nest in search of food. Usually, however, they fly one or two miles away from their hive to forage on flowers.
• Honeybees are entirely herbivorous when they forage for nectar and pollen but can cannibalize their own brood when stressed.
• Worker honeybees live for about 4 weeks in the spring or summer but up to 6 weeks during the winter.
• Honeybees are almost the only bees with hairy compound eyes.

• The queen may lay 600-800 or even 1,500 eggs each day during her 3 or 4-year lifetime. This daily egg production may equal her own weight. She is constantly fed and groomed by attendant worker bees.
• A populous colony may contain 40,000 to 60,000 bees during the late spring or early summer.
• The brain of a worker honeybee is about a cubic millimeter but has the densest neuropile tissue of any animal.
• Honey is 80% sugars and 20% water.
• Honey has been used for millennia as a topical dressing for wounds since microbes cannot live in it. It also produces hydrogen peroxide. Honey has even been used to embalm bodies such as that of Alexander the Great.
• Fermented honey, known as Mead, is the most ancient fermented beverage. The term "honey moon" originated with the Norse practice of consuming large quantities of Mead during the first month of a marriage.
• Honeybees fly at 15 miles per hour.
• The queen may mate with up to 17 drones over a 1-2 day period of mating flights.
• The queen stores the sperm from these matings in her spermatheca, thus she has a lifetime supply and never mates again.
• A queen bee can control the flow of sperm to fertilize an egg when she is about to lay an egg. Honeybees have an unusual genetic sex determination system known as haplodiploidy.
• Worker bees are produced from fertilized eggs and have a full (double) set of chromosomes. The males, or drones, develop from unfertilized eggs and are thus haploid with only a single set of chromosomes.

Stephen L. B., Ph.D.