All about Honey Bees

There are about seven known species, and a lot more subspecies of honey bees in the world. The Western Honey Bee is the most common and is found in all continents except the Antarctica. This bee is domesticated and used for the pollination of crops and honey production.

How to identify a Honey Bee?

The easiest ways to identify a bee from a wasp are-

  • That a bee has very little difference between the size of the abdomen and the thorax.
  • Bees are covered all over by hair.
  • Bees have antennae, which they use to smell, touch and taste with. Their antennae are divided into stick like segments that are joined together like an elbow.
  • Bees have two distinct eyes on the side of their head and three small eyes called ocelli forming a triangle on the top of their heads.
  • Bees have a proboscis which is tongue like and is used to drink nectar from flowers.
  • The hind legs of a bee are larger and are used to carry pollen. On their hind legs they have a small basket, which is made up of hairs which they use to hold their pollen while they are flying.

Honey BeeHow do bees fly?

The buzzing noise we hear are the bee’s wings beating together when they fly. Their wings are very unique in that they have two wings on each side of their body which are held together with teeth similar to a comb, which allows the wings to become one surface and give the bee greater lift when they are flying. For the bees to get their wings to work, they have muscles which causes its thorax to squeeze in two directions. The bee by moving its thorax up and down and then left and right, causes the bee’s wings to move back and forth, allowing them to fly. This action allows bees to beat their wings quickly, over two hundred and thirty times per second, and fly. Bees usually only fly as high as tree tops. They don’t like to fly in heavy rain, but they can fly in rain.

Types of Honey Bees

There are three types of adult honey bees, the workers, drones and the queen. Each colony is made of one queen, hundreds of drones and twenty to eighty thousand workers.

How do you tell the difference between a drone (male bee) and a worker (female bee)? Drone bees have huge eyes, that meet at the top of their head, whereas female worker bees have smaller eyes that are separated. The female workers are slightly smaller than drones. Male bees don’t have stingers, this is because it also lays eggs, and the drone’s main job is to mate with the queen.

Queen BeeQueen Bee

There is only one queen bee per colony of honey bees. The queen bee is bigger than the worker and drone bees. Her role is to look after the colony and mate with the drone bees and lay eggs. The life span of the queen bee is three to four years.

Drone Bee

The drone bee is the male bee, unlike the worker bees they don’t collect nectar and pollen. Their role is to mate with the queen bee, and once they have mated, they die. If they don’t mate with the queen, they are sent out of the hives in winter to starve and die.

Worker Bee

The worker bees do all the work, they do the housekeeping, feed the queen, drones and the larvae, they collect the pollen and nectar, make the wax, and the honey. A worker bee lives for a few weeks during the summer months, but can live for a couple of months during winter. For more interesting facts about worker bees you may be interested in reading our article, All you need to know about worker bees.

Royal Jelly

Royal Jelly is produced by the worker honey bees, it is a milky fluid. This is secreted from the glands in the heads of the worker bees and fed to all of the bee larvae. Drone and the female worker bees’ larvae only get fed it for the first three days of their life cycle. But larvae destined to be a queen are continued to be fed it through their development. So, whether a larva becomes a worker or a queen bee is because of their diet from day three.

Bees Diet

The bees diet consists of nectar and pollen collected from flowers. Nectar is the sweet water produced by the flowers, and pollen is a protein rich powder. Honey bees also like to feast on ripe fruit.