Bees

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Order Hymenoptera

Appearance / Identification

What Do Bees Look Like?
Found globally, bees are winged insects of the order Hymenoptera, super-family Apoidea. There are more than 20,000 recorded bee species. Megachile pluto, the largest of these creatures, is reported to be 3.9 cm long, while Perdita minima, the most diminutive of bees, are shorter than 2 mm long. Bees can be black or brown with red, yellow or lustrous blue stripes.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

While some bees are solitary, species such as honey bees and bumble bees are tremendously social. Bee colonies are comprised of three castes: the queen bee, infertile female worker bees and male drones. The queen mates and lays eggs for the span of her life. Honey bee queens can live up to five years, though most average a lifespan of two to three years. Male drones exist solely to fertilize the queen and die soon after having fulfilled their task. Female worker bees perform a multitude of tasks necessary to the survival of the hive. As a result of their constant laboring, their average life span is usually a mere six weeks.

Reproduction

All bees are hairy, a crucial trait for pollen collection. Flowers and flourishing vegetation often attract bees, and there is no insect as important as the bee when it comes to pollination. Many female bee species have rows of bristles on their hind legs which form a hollow basket. When the bee lands on a flower, pollen grains are combed into the hollow basket and bristles. Cross-pollination occurs when the displaced grains of pollen are distributed to the fertile pistils of other flowers as the bee alights upon them. Although only females are able to transfer pollen, all bees are able to sip the nectar from flowers using a tonguelike organ. This nectar is their primary source of energy. Pollen is sustenance for both adult and larval bees, as it contains protein and other nutrients necessary to their survival. Bees possess an organ that converts nectar into honey, which is collected, depending on the species, inside the hive or bee colony.

Bee Swarms

The most well-documented and encountered bee swarms are those of honey bees. Typically, honey bee swarms are not a major threat, unless when dealing with Africanized honey bees. The bees do not have a nest or young and, therefore, are less defensive. However, they will sting if provoked.

Bee swarming typically occurs in colonies that are thriving and with robust populations. Weak colonies of bees may not swarm until they become stronger and larger in population. Bee colonies may become weak due to starvation, disease or failing queens. Several factors can contribute to the occurrence of a swarm, such as seasonal changes and overcrowding.

Swarming involves a contingent of workers and a queen departing the original colony. The swarm typically gathers at a resting site, often in a tree, after leaving the colony. Scouts are sent to location a new location, such as in a log or other cavity. Once a suitable location is found, the swarm will relocate to the site and begin to nest.

Two kinds of bee swarms occur: primary and secondary. The queen bees lead primary swarms, which include a larger number of workers acting to protect the egg-laying queen. Secondary swarms are led by several virgin female bees and as a result, these swarms are half the size of the primary swarm and do not occur as often.

Control

While bees can benefit the environment in many ways, it is inconvenient and possibly dangerous to let a bee hive thrive near your home.

It is important to properly identify the particular species living near your home, as bees are often mistaken for wasps due to their similar physical characteristics. There are different elimination processes for wasps and bees, so effective treatment relies upon proper identification. When using any method of bee control, it is also necessary to know effective application strategies, as well as the limitations and dangers associated with each method. In many regions, special licenses are required to treat infestations.

The only way to rid your home of bees is to remove the hive entirely. This precarious task requires the correct tools and strategy. For safety and efficiency purposes, a pest control expert should be consulted before any bee control technique is attempted.

Bee Season

Life Cycle of a Bee

Bee Nest Identification

Honey Bees

Africanized Honey Bees

Western Honey Bee

European Honey Bee

Japanese Honey Bee

Carpenter Bee