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The 6 Most Mind-Blowing Superpowers of Bees

They make sweet deliciousness for your tummy, they're responsible for most of the fruit you eat and they kill more people worldwide than sharks, snakes, ninjas and Australia combined. The buzz right now is all about bees. They're vitally important to agriculture, and they're dying mysteriously all over the world. But if you thought that flitting around flowers and falling over dead were the only things bees were good at, then you are sorely misinformed, friend. These insects possess a vast array of astounding abilities. Bees kick seven different kinds of ass, because they have ...

#6. Super Static Cling

Bees are in tune with electricity in lots of unique ways. First, they can sense the Earth's magnetic field and use it to navigate, which is cool, but not exactly rare (cows and fish can figure out which way north is based on the Earth's magnetic field, and as a rule, anything that a cow can do isn't impressive).

Reuters via Foxnews.com
See a cow looking like this, and you know it's going to be followed by a mercy shooting.

Bees decided to take this ability a step further. Not only can they tap into the geomagnetic field of the planet, but they can also sense the electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere that precede thunderstorms. Sensing the static in the air, bees know to high-tail it home well before a storm arrives. Bees are so hypersensitive to electricity that electrically charged particles have been shown to affect a bee's appetite and screw up its navigation.

One study concluded that bees detect electric fields on the quantum frigging level. Part of the reason for this sensitivity is that bees carry around their own electrical field. When bees buzz, their wings produce a strong negative charge, and being furry little bastards, this static will build up like socks (or cats) in a dryer. Besides zapping siblings on the ear, they use this charge to harvest food ... magnetically.

dalantech
"I DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM, STOP JUDGING ME!"

Bees make honey out of pollen. Pollen, as everyone knows, is plant sperm, and it has a natural positive charge. So when a negative bee rolls up to a new flower engorged with positive love dust, the stuff practically leaps onto it. Bees utilize the power of static cling to harvest plant jizz (in case all of this talk of positive charges was too sciencey for you). In fact, these "flying dust mops" are so good at collecting particulates that they're being studied for a wide range of applications, from spreading insecticides to searching for bombs.

#5. Incredible Language Skills

Getty

After primates, bees have the most complex language out of any animal, and they even have a fairly advanced form of dance-based sign language, something no other insects come even close to having. That's a fact. (Suck it, ants.) They communicate in "an abstract, symbolic way" that we're only just beginning to understand, and they look fly as shit while doing it, because bees communicate with interpretive dance. Through their "waggling" and shaking, scouts can report the distance and direction of food sources over 3 miles away. The directions are accurate to within about 15 feet. They also explain how good the getting is and whether the area is dangerous. It's like a Hokey Pokey version of MapQuest.


Can you see the weird happy face?

Bees use choreographed triangulation. A scout can tell you how far away food is, how rich it is and in what direction you'd need to travel to get there, all through the sexy language of dance-talking. How do scientists know all of this? How did they crack the bees' language? Researchers superglued small antennae on a few bugs and tracked them through radar to confirm that, yes, most bees are fluent in the language of dance. You could barely tell that the antennae were there.

BBSRC/Rothamsted Research via Livescience.com
"Bravo 14, we're in the shit -- repeat, we're in the shit! Send air support ASAP, I'm not dying in this fucking jungle!"

But that's not the only thing bees dance-talk about. When it's time to move to a new hive, the scouts will go house hunting. They'll dance around to give directions and encourage other scouts to go look at a new location. Research has shown that a bee consensus is reached at around 15. When a bee starts buzzing around a new hive, that means that it has cast its vote for the joint. When 15 votes are in for a new home, the decision has been reached and they all head home to tell the others.

But what happens if other scouts are still dancing in favor of a different hive? They get headbutted and will continue to get headbutted until they quiet down. Scouts will also knock heads with other scouts who are giving out directions to dangerous food locations. In bee language, as in human communication, a headbutt to the face means shut the hell up.

#4. Miraculous Substances

Getty

Bees are the only bugs we get food from. They're like little striped cows with wings. On top of its yumminess, honey has a number of other astounding abilities. It never goes bad, ever, and it has some incredible antibacterial properties. It's been used to treat wounds since before recorded history. And honey made from the manuka bush of Australia and New Zealand is so effective that it's being tested for use in hospitals to treat wounds, sterilize equipment and even fight cancer. How many diseases have milk and eggs cured today?

Photos.com
At least mad cow disease is less terrifying than mad bee disease.

But honey is just one of the many substances that bees make. In fact, just about everything that comes out of a bee has been shown to fight cancer, including bee venom, royal jelly and propolis. What is propolis? It's a substance that bees make to patch the hive with, and injecting these substances directly into tumors leads to significant shrinkage. There's no alchemy or chemistry to it: Researchers are just squirting various bee juices directly into cancerous growths and getting results. Besides its use in combating tumors, bee venom is also being used to treat muscular dystrophy, depression and dementia, and it causes the nerves in the brain to "become hyperexcitable, producing improved learning."

Getty
"Now you take this up to your room, and don't you come out until you've learned math!"

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