A friend’s son asked this question because he was interested to know if bees travel further than other animals. So I wondered how far different animals can travel, and wanted to find out which one travels the furthest…
The British Beekeepers Association says that bees can travel as far as 5 miles to find food! But most stay within 1 mile of their hive. Other insects travel long distances too. Leafcutter ants, for example, can travel up to 100 metres from their nests to collect just the right kind of leaves for their colonies.
And some mammals make long journeys to look for food. Wolves can travel up to 12 miles a day; and elephants can go 50 miles a day (but they usually only travel a mile or two).
Lots of animals ‘migrate’, which means that they travel from one place to another in a group. They often do this to look for food or to find a good place to breed (make babies). For example, elephants, caribou (reindeer) and wildebeest migrate to look for food as the seasons change.
Salmon fish are born in streams but then travel to the ocean, which can be hundreds of miles away. They then swim back to their ‘home’ streams when they are fully grown, to spawn and lay their eggs. Sea turtles also travel between the place where they feed and the place where they build their nests and lay their eggs. One kind of turtle, the leatherback turtle, can migrate up to 10,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean!
Whales migrate in order to find food and have their calves (whale babies). Humpback whales make one of the longest animal migration journeys – more than 3,000 miles! That’s the same distance as some Monarch butterflies, which migrate to find warmer weather in the wintertime.
And lots of birds migrate, too. One type of bird, the arctic tern, flies all the way from Greenland to Antarctica every year. But they don’t fly in a straight line, they take a zigzag path and cover a whopping 44,000 miles!
So the arctic tern wins the prize for making the longest migration journey of any animal.