The honey bee

The Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

By D G Mackean

The honey bee (Apis mellifera) lives in colonies of many thousand individuals which live in a hive (an artificially constructed ‘nest’). There are three types of honey bee:

  1. queens
  2. drones
  3. workers

Queen. There is only one queen in a hive. She is the only bee that can lay eggs. She is fed by the workers. She is mated by one of the drones and stores his sperms in a special sac in her body. This supply of sperms lasts for her lifetime.

Drones are male bees. Their function is to fertilise the next queen when she hatches. They do not collect nectar or pollen but are fed by the workers. There are only a few hundred drones per hive. In winter they are expelled from the hive.

Workers are female bees but they are sterile, i.e. they cannot lay eggs. There may be 20,000 to 80,000 workers in a hive. Among other duties, the workers construct the honeycomb using wax secreted from glands on their abdomens. The combs consist of an array of hexagonal ‘cells’ into which eggs are laid or nectar and pollen stored.

Eggs laid by the queen in some of these cells develop into larvae which are fed by the workers until they become pupae. The workers then put a capping over the cells until the adult bees are ready to emerge.

Workers’ duties. The workers carry out a sequence of duties as they become older. At first they clean the hive by removing dead larval ‘skins’ and dead bees. Later they start to feed the larvae on nectar and pollen. After 10 to 12 days their wax glands become active and they build the cells of the honeycomb. In about three weeks, the workers leave the hive and go foraging for nectar and pollen from flowers. They take these products back to the hive and store them in the cells.

D G Mackean is the author of GCSE Biology, IGCSE Biology, and many other Biology text books. He has a site of Biology Teaching Resources, which includes a bank of experiments for teachers, sample PowerPoint presentations, and many biological drawings.

Article Source: The Honey Bee (Apis-mellifera)

Amazing Honey Bee Facts

By Ruth Tan

honey beesI think we should get ourselves some honey bee facts, after all so many healing and health-promoting opportunities for the humans begin with this little busy creature. As you read the following 20 statements about honey’s great creator, you will be so intrigued just like me by this teensy-weensy fellow’s extraordinary abilities.

1. The honey bee has been around for 30 million years.

2. It is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.

3. Honey bees are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators.

4. They are insects with a scientific name – Apis mellifera.

5. They have 6 legs, 2 eyes, and 2 wings, a nectar pouch, and a stomach.

6. The honeybee’s wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.

7. A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour, hence it would have to fly around 90,000 miles – three times around the globe – to make one pound of honey.

8. The average honey bee will actually make only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

9. It takes about 556 workers to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers.

10. It takes one ounce of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.

11. A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.

12. A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen.

13. Worker honey bees are female, live 6 to 8 weeks and do all the work.

14. The queen bee lives for about 2-3 years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2500 eggs per day.

15. The male honey bees are called drones, and they do no work at all, have no stinger, all they do is mating.

16. Each honey bee colony has a unique odour for members’ identification.

17. Only worker bees sting, and only if they feel threatened and they die once they sting. Queens have a stinger, but don’t leave the hive to help defend it.

18. It is estimated that 1100 honey bee stings are required to be fatal.

19. Honey bees communicate with one another by “dancing”.

20. During winter, honey bees feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months. They form a tight cluster in their hive to keep the queen and themselves warm.

My most memorable honey bee fact is No 19: Honey bees communicate with one another by “dancing”. And the most incredible to me is No 2: It is the only insect that produces edible food for man!

Source: – Article by Ruth TanHoney Bee Facts

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