Overview of Honey Bees Facts, Types & Characteristics
Honey bees, although one of the most popular bees, represent only a small percent of bee species. Honey bees are the only surviving group of bees from the Apini tribe, which is under the Apis genus. They are known for producing and storing honey, or liquefied sugar, as well as building impressively large nests using wax secreted by workers in a particular colony. Honey bees measure about 15 mm long and are light brown in color.
Honey bee facts: The colony and responsibilities of each bee
Like some other bee species, honey bees are social and live in colonies numbering in the thousands. Three types of adult honey bees reside in one colony: the queen, male drones and infertile female workers.
In each colony, there is only one egg-laying queen, but there are thousands of workers. The queen honey bees mate with drones, establish new colonies and lay eggs. Queen bees lay eggs in the cells of the nest, and when they hatch, they become larvae. Each colony contains only one queen, who is capable of producing 2,000 eggs a day.
Adult workers tend the larvae inside the cells and feed them with pollen and honey for approximately three weeks, at which point they become adults. Mature bees chew themselves out of the sealed cells to emerge.
Drones, or male bees, are the minority in a colony and serve only one purpose: to mate with virgin honey bee queens. Soon after mating, drones die.
Although infertile worker females usually do not produce their own eggs nor establish new colonies, they perform several important tasks. Young honey bee workers tend to larvae by secreting liquid from their abdominal glands. As workers mature, they become responsible for carrying and storing food gathered by foragers. As strong adults, they forage for food until they die.
Honey Bee Sound
Click here to listen to honey bees buzz.
Honey bee facts: Distribution
Honey bees species are found worldwide and can be seen in many different locations, including Europe and the United States. They are most visible in summer and late spring, when new queens leave their old colonies along with thousands of workers to build new nests. At this time, large groups of bees can be seen swarming together to find a new nesting place. It takes a swarm approximately 24 hours to locate a new nesting site. While most swarms are harmless, certain species of bees are extremely aggressive and may attack unprovoked.
Because honey bees are found worldwide, their nature and behavior can vary. For instance, while Italian honey bees are usually more docile, German and African honey bees can display extremely defensive behavior. However, all honey bees can become defensive when provoked and can chase humans or animals hundreds of feet.
Honey bee facts: Behavior
Workers create impressive hives comprised of individual cells where the queen lays her eggs. Unlike other bee species, honey bees do not hibernate during cold periods. Instead, they remain inside the nests huddled closely together, sharing body heat and feeding on stored food supplies.
Honey bees are social creatures and live in colonies. However, they do display some aggressive behavior within colonies: drones are ejected from their nests during cold weather, and a queen will sometimes sting other queens during mating fights for dominance. Although honey bees serve a significant role in pollination and ecology, measures should be taken to ensure that hives do not exist in close proximity to your home, due to the possibility of getting stung. Always contact a pest control professional before attempting to address an infestation.