The Intriguing World Of Honey Bees


Did you know that honey bees can revolt against their Queen bee? Or that there are nurse bees taking care of the young ones, providing them food? Bees are interesting and complex. Here is a look.

Honey bee

honey bee honey beeHoney bees are the flying insects. They belong to the family of Apidae. Honey bees produce honey as their food and store them in their hives which they consume during winters when they are enabled to find any blooming flower and nectar. Honey which is produced is in large amount so that can be used by humans as well as bees.

Mankind future depends upon the honeybees. Honey bees have become very in essential part of humans daily life. There are more than 20,000 known species of bees. They are also known as super flyer as they can fly at the maximum speed of 25 km per hour. They can beat their wings approx 250 times per second. Bees can sting only once in their life. Honey bees are the only bee that dies after stinging the human.

Pollinators

Bees are the most efficient insect to pollinate the flowers though they were not the first one. When the honey bee collects nectar from the flowers some of the pollen from stamen i.e. male reproductive part of the plants gets attached to the body of the bee. When these bees go to another flower some of the pollen grains depart from their bodies to the stigma or pistil i.e. female reproductive part of the flower. Thereafter fertilization occurs. In this way bees also help up in in pollination of the flowers.

They also develop pollen basket on their hind legs and scopo hairs which help in pollination.
The worker bees perform waggle dance to tell the other bees the source of the food. When they enter the hive they dance in the figure of eight to tell other bee the source of the food.

Communal and Solitary

We always think that all the bees are communal in nature but in reality, 9% of the bees live solitary lives. They have their nest in the ground and it does not produce honey or bee wax but it produces the nectar of same consistency like honey. Solitary bees are best pollinators and pollen is gathered to provision the nest with food for their bread. Some solitary bees are carpenter bees, bumble bees, mason bees, sweat bees. They generally stingless and harmless.

Other bees are communal bees. Communal colony typically consist of three kinds of bees. The first one is the queen, the second is the workers and the last one is drones.
Each member depends upon each other and it’s beyond the bounds of possibilities to live without each other. Each one of them has specific work to do and cannot survive without a colony.

1. Queenbee

honey bee
Queen bee

Queen is the only ‘female reproducing bee’ in the whole hive. She is the largest bee in the whole colony and only one Queen lives in the hive. She has a long and graceful body.

Queen’s primary function is to reproduce. She mates with the male bees known as drones. Queen can mate only once in her whole lifetime. She can lay up to 1500 eggs per day, 250 thousand year and millions in her lifetime. She stops laying eggs when the weather gets cold in November. She also produces a chemical that maintains the unity in the colony and checks the function of the whole hive.

Features of The Queenbees

Queens have a more tapered abdomen and often more golden coloured hairs on their body. She is the largest bee in the hive the length of 20 mm. She has wings covering half of her abdomen. Queen can sting more than one time to survive because her sting is smoother in comparison to worker bees. Since these changes are subtle and vital so to recognize the Queen bee beekeepers mark the queen bees. Queen bees can also be sold two other beekeepers to ensure the growth of other hives.

New Queenbee

After the death of Queen bee, workers create a new queen from the young larvae and special treatment is given to them. Nurse bees will begin to draw out 25 millimetre long comb, to give a larger room for their development. After that Queen bee’s larvae is feeded with royal jelly for more than 3 days which is greater than the royal jelly given to workers and drone larvae. It will take 16 days for the queen to hatch. Only Queenbee is treated with this jelly throughout her larvae phase.

Most of the honey bees used by the beekeepers are of Apis Mellifera and there several subspecies or strains of these each unique characteristics. Knowledgeable beekeeper sometime uses queens of different subspecies to develop optimal honey production and desirable qualities in the hive they maintain. So when a queen of different species replaces a queen in a hive then the whole workers and drones of that species is replaced by the new ones within few months.

The life span of the Queen bee

Generally, the life span of the Queen bee is 3 to 5 years. Sometimes they die because of the completion of their lifetime and sometimes because of workers – as they want to change their Queen bee. Yes, revolutions happen in the honey bee world too!

2.Worker bees

honey bee
Worker bees

These are the second kind of bees present in the hive. These all are females and are not capable of reproduction. These are the bees which help in pollination as they develop pollen basket on the hind legs. They suck the nectar from the flowers. These are the hard working bees and have several jobs to do and the main task is to feed the other bees. Act as a midwife to assist larvae.

Features of The Workers bees

Worker these are the smallest among all. They have head, thorax and abdomen. They are 15 millimetre in length and weighs hundred milligrams. The special feature which they have is hypopharyngeal gland which she used to feed larvae, the queen and the drones. This is located on their head. She also has a long tongue which is helpful to suck the nectar from the flowers. Worker bees lays unfertilized eggs which produces drones.

Birth

Workers are the fertilized eggs laid by the queen bees so they remain in their cell for three days and then transition into larvae takes place and are treated by the nurse bees with the royal jelly for 3 days. It takes total 30 days to emerge out an adult bee.

Different Feeding Process

Worker honey bees have different feeding process for the different kinds of bees like queens are given special treatment by feeding their larvae with royal jelly for more than 3 days. And when in the adult Queen bees head poke out of her cup this worker bees help her to chew her way out.

In the case of females, their larvae are fed for 3 days and when they are adult they are not helped and cared for by the honey bee workers. So the newborn honey bee female bee follows her ordered life of being a worker starting from cleaning her cell. On the other hand, if the larvae is a male they are taken care and helped and immediately fed.

Other Jobs of Workerbees

Other than feeding workers have several works like clearing the dead bees and larvae that are present in the hives or cell, feed the drone regularly, take care of the queen and groom them and spread the news in the whole hive that their Queen is still workable. They store the pollen grains brought by the foraging bees so that they are not spoiled, maintain the temperature of the hive and protect the hive from unwanted visitors.

The life span of The Worker Bees

There are two types of worker bees one is summer bee and other is winter bee. Summer bees have a huge amount of work and are very hard working so their life span is very short. They only live for 4- 6 weeks.

On the other hand winter bees do not have great amount of work as they only have to keep their Queen warm so they live longer life of 6 to 8 months.

3. Drones

honey bee
Drone bee

These are the third kind of bees found in the hive. They are the male bees. They do not have any specific kind of work. They are used to mate with the queen for the future generation. A queen can mate with drones of different colonies, this helps in diverging the genetic characteristics and reducing the diseases. Only 10 to 20 drones can mate with Queen bee in her mating flight. After mating with the queen they die. In a colony of 10,000 bees, there are only a hundred males.

Features of The Drone bees

Drone is smaller than the Queen honey bee but have approximately the same weight. He has a large abdomen and long leg. He has a round head and box-shaped stomach unlike workers and Queen bee. They have large wings and bigger eyes.

Birth

A drone comes out of a unfertilized egg. His larvae is treated with royal jelly for 3 days and after that it is fed with bee bread which is the mixture of pollen and honey. The development of larvae and pupa is completed in 24 days.

The Life span of Drones

As you know that drones are used for mating with queen honey bees and they die after mating. But there is a large amount of drones left in the hive which are left after the mating process. So these drones are not useful for the Hive and only increase the numbers of bees in the hive to be fed. That is why they are thrown out of the hive and as we know that they cannot feed by themselves so they gradually dies.

Why Are Bees Dying?

We know that the bees roam around the garden of flowers to collect the nectar or pollen grains. But honey bees under threats by a number of different factors like diseases and mistakes Of The beekeepers and farmers and even the weather. One of them is Varroa Mites. Once the Varroa mites enter the beehive it multiplies rapidly and all the bees can die in 2 to 3 years. It feeds upon the bee larvae’s blood like substance and lay their eggs in the cell. The young Varroa Mites also feeds on the bee larvae. When the bee hatches, it becomes weak and often infected with viruses. They have a shorter lifespan.

So, to prevent from it beekeepers should suspend plastic stripes between the two cells. These stripes contain special substance which sticks to the legs of the bees and can be spread in the whole hive. By this Varroa Mites get weak and fall of from the body of bees which can be collected further this shows the success in prevention of bees from Varroa Mites.

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