There are 3 types of honey bees: Worker Bees, Drones and the Queen. In a hive there are several thousand worker bees. They are the ones that build comb, keep the hive clean, take care of the eggs and larvae and bring the pollen and nectar back to the hive and feed the queen. The worker bees are all female. There are only a few hundred drones in a hive. The drones are male. They are larger than the worker bees and can be identified by their size and by their large eyes. The drones’ sole purpose is to mate with a queen. Once he mates with a queen, he dies. There is only one queen bee in a hive. She lays the eggs (a single egg in each cell). A queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs in a day and more than a million eggs in her lifetime. When the hive has determined that it is time to swarm or they are not happy with the queen, they will begin to raise a new queen. They may possibly raise several queens, but when they emerge the strongest will eliminate all others queens.
It takes about 3 days for the eggs to develop into larvae. The worker bees tend to the larvae and feed them. After 8 days the cell is capped and the larvae changes into a pupae. After 9 days, the pupae has changed colors and will emerge as a young bee. If the hive has decided to raise a new queen, they will feed substantial amounts of royal jelly to select larvae. These select larvae will develop into queen bees. Bees will perform various housekeeping duties inside the hive until they are 3 or 4 weeks old. They will then work outside of the hive.
Honey bees collect pollen and nectar in the spring and summer. They have a proboscis, which is like a straw, that they use to suck the nectar out of the flowers. They store the nectar in their stomachs and carry it back to the beehive. They have little pollen "baskets" on their hind legs to carry the pollen back to the hive.
A worker bee has a several wax producing glands in her abdomen. These glands convert the sugar in nectar into wax which seeps through small pores in the bee’s body leaving tiny white flakes on its abdomen. These bits of wax are then chewed by the bees. The chewed wax is added to the construction of the honeycomb. The bees construct hexagonal tubes and fill them with pollen, nectar, and honey. The queen lays her eggs in empty cells.
Bees also produce propolis. This is a sticky, glue-like substance that they use to fill gaps and to strengthen the comb where they meet the hive wall. Bees produce propolis by mixing the sticky resin from trees and flowers and mixing it with the wax flakes the bee produces. It is then placed in the pollen baskets on the legs of the bees and brought back to the hive. There are only a few bees in the hive that will gather propolis.
Honey bees are not agressive, they will only sting if they feel threatened. The stinger on a honey bee is barbed. If the bee stings you, the stinger will become caught and will remain in the skin. The quicker this stinger is removed, the less venom is pumped into the wound. The bee will fly away, however, it will die soon after.
Fun Facts about Honey Bees!
Additional Facts taken from 2 Cs and a Bee - Beekeeper Association at http://www.ccbee.org:
Honeybees are not native to the USA. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers.
Honeybees are not aggressive by nature, and will not sting unless protecting their hive from an intruder or are unduly provoked.
Honeybees represent a highly organized society, with various bees having very specific roles during their lifetime: e.g., nurses, guards, grocers, housekeepers, construction workers, royal attendants, undertakers, foragers, etc.
The queen bee can live for several years. Worker bees live for 6 weeks during the busy summer, and for 4-9 months during the winter months.
The practice of honey collection and beekeeping dates back to the stone-age, as evidenced by cave paintings.
The honeybee hive is perennial. Although quite inactive during the winter, the honeybee survives the winter months by clustering for warmth. By self-regulating the internal temperature of the cluster, the bees maintain 93 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the winter cluster (regardless of the outside temperature).
Honey bees forage about 2 – 2.5 miles to collect pollen and nectar.
Bees can detect changes in air pressure. If it’s going to rain and air pressure drops, they stay in their hives. Bees also do not fly around much if the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
They use the stored honey and pollen for food during the cold months when nectar is not available.
...the Start of Something Sweet!
We have learned a lot about honey bees over the last several years. They are important for pollination and therefore are an integral part of food production. We thought it would be fun to have some Bee Facts posted on our site. This is a page that will continually grow.
General Bee Information: