Where would we be without bees? They’re pesky at times, but we’d be a little lost without them. In addition to giving us honey, bees perform the vital service of pollination for wildflowers and many crops. They’re some of nature’s hardest workers, without whom some 30% of the world’s crops would go unfertilized. A further 90% of wild plants need cross-pollination from bees to thrive. Without them spreading seeds from one plant to another, many plants, including vital food crops, would die. So, before you swat them away for invading your front porch, check out these 20 incredible facts about the world’s most famous flying insect

Queen’s Men

Male honeybees are called drones, and they exist only for mating with the queen. This job may sound cushy, but it also means they’re the first to go if there’s a food shortage in the hive. The worker bees give drones the boot to free up the resources they consume.

To Die For

Another reason a male drone’s job isn’t all that glamorous: after mating with the queen, they die. Before mating, the males extend their endophallus, or male sex organ, into the queen, who holds on to it after they’re done making sweet, sweet larvae. This rips open the male’s abdomen and causes death shortly afterward. Male bees make the choice between a life without sex and a grisly death. Tough call.

Mating Machine

Each and every individual bee has a unique and important role in maintaining the hive. The queen’s job? Make babies, and lots of them. That’s why she mates with the poor, doomed male drones until she has accumulated at least 70 million sperm from multiple partners.

Huge Variety

We’re used to seeing honeybees, but they make up only a small percentage of the great variety of bee species out there. In fact, there are approximately 16,000 unique species, with only about 5 percent of them being so-called “social bees”, who live together in a hive making nectar and honey.

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