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Bees evolve from flies

The history of bees: Bees evolved from earlier flies and dragonflies about 200 million years ago, during the Jurassic period.

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The Jurassic period
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This was when the dinosaurs were alive. Bees developed the ability to take advantage of a new food source: flowering plants like apple trees and grass and daisies.

Evolution of flowers
A project with flowers

Plants start to make nectar

Opium poppy flower

Opium poppy flower

Plants started to make nectar – essentially sugar-water – in order to attract bees and other insects. Bees developed the ability to eat the nectar that these flowering plants made.

The bees and the flowers worked out a relationship that is good for both the bees and the flowers. Bees help the flowers to reproduce by accidentally picking up some of the flower’s pollen on their legs. Then the bees carry the pollen with them to the next flower.

What is pollen?

Flowers evolve to attract bees

bee on a purple flower

Bee on a flower

To attract even more bees, some plants developed bright red or yellow flowers that would be easy to find, and other flowers started to make addictive drugs that would get the bees hooked so they would come back more often. Poppies are bright red and make opium, and tobacco plants make nicotine.

What is opium?
More about tobacco

Bees make honey

The bees took the nectar back to their hive with them, and gave it to other bees, who made it into honey, which would last all winter. The honey-making bees fan the nectar with their wings to evaporate the water, and they add enzymes to break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose. With hardly any water, bacteria can’t grow in honey, so it lasts until the next flowers grow in the spring.


Bees make honeycomb to keep their honey in.

Then during the Cretaceous period, after the dinosaurs died off, some of these bees evolved into ants.

More about the Cretaceous
And about ants

Did you find out what you wanted to know about the history of bees? Let us know in the comments!

More about Ants

Arthropods (including bees)
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