Facts, Identification & Control
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.
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.
Honey bees can produce substantial amounts of honey, as can several other bee species. As pollinators, honey bees are critical to the environment and the food supply. Unfortunately, they also can become a medical and structural threat if they nest near people and buildings. Bees and other pollinators are protected in many states, so if an infestation should occur in or near a dwelling, consumers should consider contacting a local beekeeper to relocate the nest. A beekeeper can assess the situation and determine if it is feasible to remove the nest. This can be an intensive process, especially if the nest is large. For more information on honey bee nest relocation, contact a local bee keeper or an apiary society .