The Buzz of Bees Explained

Bees buzz for lots of reasons from communication to exploding pollen.
Jessica Miley

Why do bees buzz? Watch SciShow's Hank Green explain this question in their remarkable video.

The simple answer we got from this video is that the buzzing is created from the bees wings as they fly just like other insects that make that familiar sound. Think mosquitos. 

But the bees buzz is often more complex than that. Some of the 20, 000 species buzz to communicate and others buzz to get pollen out of flowers in a process known as buzz pollination. But first the flying sounds, bees wings flap at up to 230 beats per second. These insanely rapid wing movements cause the air to vibrate which translates to sound.

The faster the wings are beating, the higher the pitch of the sounds you’ll hear. In buzz pollination, bees create sound energy by using their bodies to make vibrations. 

They use the same muscles they would when flying, but don’t move their wings, rather their bodies vibrate rapidly. During buzz pollination, a bee's body can be vibrating at up to 440 beats per second.

This creates the distinct sound of a bee when it sits on a flower. The vibrations unlock pollen inside flowers. Not all flowers need these vibrations for pollen extraction. 

Many species of flowers have their pollen in pretty easy to get to get places, and some flowers are even designed for easy access by bees. However other plants like to make it a little more difficult. 

Tomato and blueberry plants require some extra work as their pollen is trapped inside with just a small pore for an opening. To tackle this challenge, the bees grip onto the flower, bite down on the small opening and vibrate rapidly until the pollen trapped inside explodes out. So there you have it. Bees buzz for business.

The YouTube channel SciShow explores many scientific subjects entertainingly, to feed your curiosity check out their channel.

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