The scientific name for the western honey bee is Apis Mellifera. Honey bees live together in a colony of 40,000 - 60,000 bees.
Honey bees are not naturally aggressive but will protect their hive if provoked by an enemy.
Honey bees are the only insect that make food consumed by humans, and they help pollinate one third of all the food produced in the United States.
Bees can no longer survive in the wild for long periods of time due to certain pests and diseases from which they lack natural resistance. This is why beekeepers are even more important now than ever. Beekeepers care for the bees and keep them healthy.
A worker bee is female and controls all functions in the hive. Worker bees clean the hive, collect pollen, water, and nectar, care for the queen and the young developing bees, and maintain the natural balance of the hive.
They live for 4-6 weeks during the spring and summer months and for about 4-9 months during the winter months. Worker bees literally work themselves to death, therefore, they have short lives during the summer months when they are busy collecting nectar and doing other functions for the colony.
Worker bees have ovaries like the queen but are never fully developed due to a pheromone the queen emits to prohibit it.
There is only one queen per hive and they can live for several years. Queens mate with an average of 10-20 drones in the early part of their life before they begin egg laying. The queen lays an average of 1,000-2,000 eggs per day in the spring and summer.
Because there is only one queen per hive beekeepers often mark their queens with a colored paint dot to help identify them and keep track of their age.
A queen and worker larvae are virtually the same. The main difference is that the queen is fed a high protein diet of royal jelly, which makes her much larger and develop faster.
When a new queen is being made she is developed in what is called a queen cell. This cell looks like a peanut shape due to the fact that she is larger and will need more room to fully develop.
When a new queen hatches she creates a piping noise to signify to any rival queens that she is emerging and ready to fight. Becoming queen is a fight to the death rather than a birth right.
Drones are male bees and do not have a stinger.
Drones live for about 1-2 months during the summer and are kicked out of the hive during the winter months if they have not already mated for the season.
Drones sole purpose is mating. They do not assist in collecting nectar, pollen, making honey, caring for the young, cleaning the hive, and they can’t even feed themselves.
Drones are known for their big buggy eyes so they can easily see virgin queens when mating airborne.