The Honey Bee

bees and hive

THE HONEY BEE

Honey bees, like ants, termites and some wasps are social insects.

Unlike ants and wasps, bees are vegetarians; their protein comes from pollen and their carbohydrate comes from honey which they make from nectar.

Bees make combs of waxen cells placed side by side that provide spaces to rear young and to store honey. The bee colony lives on the stored honey throughout winters and therefore can persist for years.

WORKER BEES

Worker bees are reproductively undeveloped females that do all the work of the colony.

A colony may have 20,000 to 100,000 workers. The life span of a worker bee depends upon the time of year and amount of work done. It is generally accepted that an individual worker has the ability to log 800km in her life. She will collect 5ml (or one teaspoon) of honey over her life span.

Workers feed the Queen and larvae, guard the hive entrance and help to keep the hive cool by fanning their wings. Of course workers also collect nectar to make honey and produce wax combs. The comb is composed of hexagonal cells which have walls that are only 2/1,000 inch thick but can support 25 times their own weight.

QUEEN

The Queen is the only sexually mature female and mother of the hive. In her prime she will lay up to 2,000 eggs a day.

The difference between Workers and Queens is the quality of the larval diet. The Queen is exclusively fed a special food called “Royal Jelly”. These special larvae then develop into Queens.

The Queen also affects the colony by producing chemicals called “Pheromones” that regulate the behavior of other bees.

DRONES

Drones are male bees. A colony may have up to 500 Drones during Spring and Summer. The sole purpose of a Drone is to mate with the Queen, and once he does he dies. The Drone does not have a sting and cannot collect pollen or make beeswax.

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