Everything you need to know about bees in Minecraft

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Even ten years after its initial beta release Minecraft continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace in its quest to develop a natural world teeming with life. The latest addition to Minecraft recently has been the arrival of, you guessed it, bees! In this guide we’ll go over every absurd detail and tell you when you can expect to see bees buzzing around in your own Minecraft worlds.

Back to basics

Minecraft

The legend incarnate

While Minecraft Earth hasn’t quite landed on our smartphones yet, Minecraft is and has been available to anyone. If you’ve been wondering what all of the fuss is about (spoiler: the game deserves the praise), then Minecraft is available on almost every platform imaginable.

What are Minecraft bees?

This might be a silly question to answer for some, since I’m fairly certain most of you will know what a bee is. However, bees in Minecraft do warrant a little bit of an extra explanation.

Bees are a neutral mob (i.e., they’ll only attack the player if they’re provoked) that spawn naturally in bee nests that attach themselves to oak or birch trees. As I’m sure you can imagine, bees in Minecraft are a fan of flowers so they have a higher chance of spawning in places that have a lot of flowers and the specific trees that they enjoy. This include Plains Biomes, areas with sunflowers, and forests that have an abundance of naturally occurring flowers. They have a relatively low chance of spawning on a tree, and appear to only do so when the world is initially created, so you’re not going to eventually have a bee nest on every single tree in your world. This, combined with the various things that bees can do, makes them a valuable commodity to look out for.

What do Minecraft bees do?

Exhibiting their own unique behaviors and abilities, bees introduce a new suite of mechanics to Minecraft’s already-abundant ecosystems. This means that there a few things to look out for whenever you’re interacting with bees, and things you should or shouldn’t do.

The bees present in Minecraft will have three distinct “forms,” so to speak, that drastically alter how they behave around the player. This is when the bees are either neutral, carrying pollen, or provoked.

  • A neutral bee will migrate back and forth between their nest or hive while they search for flowers. They stay within their nest or hive for several minutes, cycle out into the world for a few minutes, then repeat the cycle indefinitely. While bees are flying around, they will not attack the player and are otherwise harmless unless provoked.

  • If the bee finds a suitable flower, it will circle the flower for a while before it picks up pollen. Whenever a neutral bee has collected pollen, its looks will change and it will start dropping off pollen particles while it flies around. During this time, the bee has the chance to pollinate any plants or crops that it flies over. In this way it essentially acts like portable bone meal, in that any time a pollen particle that the bee emits comes in contact with a still-growing plant, that plant will move forward one stage of growth. Basically, bees do what they do in the real world and help keep the ecosystem alive and healthy!

  • While bees are normally quite friendly, they will not hesitate to attack the player if certain lines are crossed. Whenever a beehive or nest is provoked, every bee in the area will gain red eyes and immediately attempt to swarm the player, which means they behave similarly to Pigmen from the Nether. Bees become provoked when one of three things happen: the player attacks or injure a member of the nest/hive; the nest/hive is destroyed completely by the player; or the player harvests honey from the nest/hive.

Bees are really quite varied in the way that they behave in Minecraft, and could be extremely useful for players looking to make their farming as efficient as possible. On the other hand, bees are also quite hard to find, and without knowing what to do it’s all too easy to provoke the bees or ruin your chances of starting your own hive.

The danger of Minecraft bees and how to avoid it

Just the act of provoking a bee nest or hive has the potential to completely wipe out the entire colony.

They’re hardly not the most dangerous of mobs you can come across in Minecraft, but bees do have the potential to threaten the player, and even put their life in danger. Not only that, but just the act of provoking a bee nest or hive has the potential to completely wipe out the entire colony. Bees pose the risk they do because of two reasons: the fact that they will swarm the player as a group, and the fact that they will poison the player.

A single bee on his lonesome poses little threat to the player, but three or four bees attacking in a unified swarm can cause a flurry of rapid damage. If the player is unprepared or already hurt, this could prove troublesome. A single bee only does 1-2 hearts of damage depending on the game’s difficulty level, but a bee also has poison. If the player is stung by a bee, its poison can do 3-4 hearts of damage sustained over time. Now what appears on the surface to be a bumbling fuzz ball has actually caused a not insignificant amount of damage.

Even more troubling is what happens to a bee after it stings the player. Much like the real world, bees in Minecraft will lose their stinger after a single attack, and subsequently die approximately one minute later. While this means that a bee has limited potential to harm the player, it does mean that a single provocation can lead to every bee in the area inadvertently committing suicide while defending their nest or hive. An annoying handicap when bees are already relatively hard to find.

It’s not all bad, however. There are ways for the player to build up their own buzzing community of happy helpers, and there are also ways to prevent bees from actively swarming the player. If an active campfire is placed directly underneath the bees’ nest or hive, the player can safely harvest any honey or honeycombs that they desire. This should also help protect the player in the event of an accidental hit.

Minecraft beehives and how to craft them

You can breed your own bees into a bustling society

Because of the scarcity of naturally occurring bees in Minecraft, it’s a great idea to think about beginning your own bee civilization! Luckily, you’ll be able to do this with the addition of a brand new craftable block: beehives. Keep in mind, crafting beehives still require an original source of bees, but once you have a small group you can breed your own bees into a bustling society. Even better, building your own beehive is incredibly easy as long as you can find a bee nest somewhere in your Minecraft game.

To begin, the player must first collect three bits of honeycomb. This can be done by waiting for a bee nest to become full of honey (something that becomes immediately obvious by its appearance) and then using a pair of shears on the bee nest. For this part, it’s important to have a campfire placed below or near the bee nest to prevent the bees from attacking. You combine this honeycomb with six blocks of wooden planks of any kind, and voila! You have a beehive.

Beehives are placeable almost anywhere in the overworld and can store up to three bees. Once you’ve begun, you can theoretically build up an army of bees! Within the limits of the game, of course. Otherwise beehives behave (pardon the alliteration) exactly like bee nests, other than a different appearance.

How to get Minecraft bees

At this point you may have realized that simply crafting a beehive isn’t quite enough. Where do the bees come from? Well as usual Mojang has been thorough, and they’re also introducing a variety of ways to either breed your own bees or lead new ones to the home of your choice. The most efficient method is of course breeding.

In order to skirt the line between realism and video games, Mojang often has to make obvious and sometimes entertaining decisions in the pursuit of entertainment. For this reason, bees only need one thing to breed: flowers. I’m relatively certain that bees don’t spontaneously multiply when consuming flowers in the real world, but in the world of Minecraft all you have to do to breed two bees is feed each one a flower. In a similar fashion to breeding other animals, giving a flower to a bee will have it enter love mode. If another bee in love mode happens to be nearby, a baby bee will pop into existence in their immediate proximity.

You only have to procure two original bees in order to have an infinite supply.

Bees can’t breed indefinitely in rapid succession. Every time a bee breeds, it requires five or so minutes in order to “recover,” so to speak, before it’s ready to breed again. Beyond that, a baby bee takes about two full in-game days to grow into an adult. The player can hasten this process by feeding the baby bee flowers. Using this process, the player only has to procure two original bees in order to have an infinite supply. Assuming you don’t cause all your bees to die when you accidentally whack one.

The more astute amongst you may have noticed that breeding bees does require at least two bees. This is the way of nature, so Minecraft does include a few ways to gather your original duo. Bees will follow the player if the player is holding a flower in their hand. This way the player can sort of shepherd bees away from their nest and force them to accept their beehive as their new home. Alternatively, using a lead is another, albeit sillier, way of collecting a few bees.

The final method takes advantages of a bee nest or beehive’s inherent limitation. A maximum of three bees can live in any one nest/hive, and if the population of the bees there were to expand beyond three, the extra bees would need to find a new home. Bees have a surprisingly large radius in which they’ll search for a new home, meaning the player can introduce bees to your artificial hives by simply growing the population beyond what the original nest can support.

On the other hand, this also means that if the original nest is destroyed, every bee inside will immediately begin searching for a new home. For this particular method to work, it’s doubly important to have a campfire handy to subdue the bees before destroying their nest. All in all, though, there’s no shortage of ways to turn a single bee nest into a productive bee farm.

Minecraft bee farming, pollination, and how to force it

All of this has of course led to a single question: how do I get bees to pollinate my crops? One of the most useful things bees will do for the player in Minecraft is accelerating the growth of food and other plants. Those of you who enjoy farming in Minecraft could be far more efficient just be having a few bee nests/hives around the place. While there’s no way to force a bee to pollinate specific crops, you can ensure it does happen.

The first step is having multiple colonies of bees. If you have a lot of crops that could benefit from their presence, it doesn’t hurt to have a lot of bees. With three bees to a nest/hive, you can rather quickly guarantee a constant stream of pollen.

It’s also important to have a large number of flowers nearby. Bees don’t always emit pollen and need to gather it from nearby flowers beforehand. Planting a ton of flowers surrounding your farmland will allow your bee workers to collect all the pollen they need before heading back to their nest or hive. On that note, it’s not a bad strategy to place the bee nests/hives and the flowers on opposite ends of your crops, that way the bees are forced to fly directly over them.

Leading the bees over your crops is a more time-consuming method, but its viable if you’re invested. Using a flower or lead, the player can capture the attention of a pollinated bee and drag them over any crops or plants that need it. If you set up your bee colonies correctly, this shouldn’t be necessary. Well-placed bee nests/hives and an abundance of flowers basically guarantees a steady supply of pollen circulating over your crops.

Minecraft honey blocks and other bee items

Along with bees and all the in-depth mechanics that accompany them are also an assortment of tasty items and blocks as well. I’ve already discussed the bee nests and hives that can be found or crafted respectively in the game, but there are three other bee-related items being added to the game.

The first and easiest item to acquire is honey. Honey can be collected from a bee nest or hive that is full of honey (it’s easy to tell when this has happened, since the nest or hive will literally be dripping honey onto the ground). All the player has to do is approach the nest/hive with a glass bottle and they can collect honey straight from the source. From what I can tell, honey is essentially a substitute for sugar in the game’s crafting system and may have other applications as well.

The second item are honeycombs. Honeycombs also require the nest/hive in question to be full of honey, but instead requires a pair of shears rather than a bottle. Honeycombs can be used to craft beehives, and may also have something to do with crafting the latest block in Minecraft: honey blocks.

Another reason to encourage players to build a labyrinth of bees surrounding their Minecraft homes.

Honey blocks are a new block announced at Minecon 2019 that has a host of unique mechanics that should make for a new bout of creativity. Honey blocks are sticky, so players can neither jump nor run while they’re standing on top of them. Additionally, honey blocks can also be climbed like vines or ladders, making them a good alternative when space is constrained. Finally, honey blocks are fully compatible with pistons, meaning there’s a ton of potential for puzzles and traps revolving around their stickiness. Honey blocks may very well have other attributes beyond this, which we’ll soon find out when players get their paws on them.

It’s not certain quite yet how to craft honey blocks, but you can be fairly certain it will have something to do with bees and the items you can collect from their nests/hives. Whatever the method, this is yet another reason to encourage players to build a labyrinth of bees surrounding their Minecraft homes.

When will Minecraft bees launch?

There’s a gargantuan amount of information to unpack and digest when it comes to the addition of bees in Minecraft, but the most important question for many will simply be when you can expect them to arrive in your game. Well, Mojang has officially announced the Minecraft 1.15 update for both the Java and Bedrock versions of Minecraft. This update includes everything discussed above as well as a brand-new honey block with all new mechanics!

An exact release date wasn’t announced, but Mojang did voice their intention to release this update and all the goodies contained within before the holidays at the end of the year. All this means for us is that a brand new bout of Minecraft will be part of this year’s holiday festivities, complete with a load of fuzzy bees.

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