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How’s your bee IQ?

If you are anything like me, January finds you eagerly awaiting the appearance of foraging honey bees. But for most of us, other kinds of bees will appear many weeks before the honey bees.

Although many bees, such as bumbles and carpenters, are large and easy to see, others are so small we hardly notice them. This quiz is about your local wild bees, whether you live in Toowoomba, Launceston, Chilliwack, or Reynosa.

When you answer the questions, remember that I’m referring to “most bees most of the time.” With bees, there is always an exception, but here I’m looking for generalities. Go ahead and give it a try. I will explain each answer in a day or two.

Take the Bee Quiz!


David C.

70 %…. I guess I have more studying to do!



The answers are surprising. The ones I thought everyone would get, are getting mixed answers. And the ones I thought no one would get, everyone is getting. I will wait another day before I review them in a post. Thanks for participating!


Please, bees and dinosaurs… Better ask how long it took for primordial soup to morph into a bee. I like your blog because you make an attempt at scientific approach to things you discuss. Science doesn’t have a reliable methodology to determine the “age of things”.



The oldest bee fossil ever found was discovered in a New Jersey amber deposit and has been carbon-dated to approximately 83 million years ago, which means that bees and dinosaurs overlapped by at least 23 million years. I think this is interesting because it shows bees survived the great extinction event of 66 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. Bees are extremely adaptable.

They are so adaptable, in fact, that I think it is amazing (and sad) that we are wiping out bee species with our modern lifestyles, when even a giant asteroid hitting the earth couldn’t wipe them out.

If you personally believe in creation rather than evolution, I certainly can’t fault you. But I believe in evolution and I also believe the history of species is instructive and something we should be looking at.



I wasn’t talking about what we both believe in, although I think it is an appropriate choice of words on your part. You BELIEVE in evolution (has nothing to do with science – science does not explain the origin of life). In my opinion, it simply takes more faith to believe in evolution than in creation. But that aside, I was talking about scientific methodology, which is the same (or should be) in every branch of natural science. Somebody proposes a theory and then through a series of verifiable and repeatable experiments that theory gains higher degree of probability (certainty). There is no such thing as an absolute truth in science. This approach is practiced in physics and chemistry, but for some reason, in biology they decided that the whole methodology is going to be based on beliefs.

That being said, carbon dating has been criticized extensively by many scientists as an unreliable way of estimating the age of organic materials. This criticism, however, was largely ignored by evolutionary zealots. Rate of decay of radioactive elements was believed to be as an immovable constant of universe, and you would think that people presenting the evidence to the contrary would create a major shake up in the scientific community. They didn’t. They still don’t. Because scientific community feels comfortable with their preconceptions which is highly unscientific on their part. That’s not to mention that these beliefs contradict the rest of the science (ask your husband about the second law of thermodynamics – as an engineer, I assume he would be familiar with it and then try to apply it to biology)

Why am I waxing not so eloquently here about that? I like your approach to studying bees, which is primarily based on learning. That is scientific! You observe, make conclusions and verify them for yourself. However you still BELIEVE the things that your were taught in school by somebody who was taught in school, by somebody… infinitum…as an absolute truth, without verifying it for yourself, or at the very least questioning it. Meanwhile you have an evidence staring you in the face each time you open your hive top – an incredible system with unimaginably low entropy.

Aaaand back to the topic, the question about dinosaurs is highly unscientific, because the dating relies on an unreliable methodology. Here is one of the latest examples of not so widely publicized discovery that radioactive decay is not as constant as many want it to be.


The record lasts, until the next one is set. 🙂
Amber trap – Burma circa -100 million +/- a few weeks:

“Yucatan Peninsula 0, Asteroid 1” Dinosaurs retire from game.–chicxulub-asteroid-dinosaurs-volcano-mass-extinction-environment-science/

I remembered the 100 million number off that Burma find but suffered a senior moment on the dino exit. I had 60-70 million for the KT boundary age safely locked away for the moment in a cranial filing cabinet. 66 mill is close enough for me.

Kent WA


Haha this was pretty fun. I studied bumble bees in grad school so maybe I had a bit of an edge, but I still didn’t know two answers!



I studied bees in grad school too! Maybe I should write the graduate edition bee quiz for next time . . .

Meanwhile, thanks for taking the quiz.

David R

Woo-Hoo, I scraped by, but barely…, I have so much to learn.
Thanks again for making learning about the bees so much fun.



You are very welcome!


Rusty, I am the news editor for a local bee club in Brisbane, Australia and I was wondering what your policy is regarding re-publication of your articles from your website to our local newsletter? As an example, I love the quiz, which I failed miserably. Is it possible for me to republish the quiz in full and the link in our newsletter?


kevin. ps I



I’ll send you an e-mail.

David Williams

Rusty, I have a similar question to Kevin’s. We have a bee club that we are trying to revitalize. (We are down to 14 members.) One idea is to have a monthly newsletter. Would it be permissible to use some of your articles? With credit to you and references to your website, of course.

Thank you,


Sure, David, as long as you provide credit and a link back here, you can use what you like.