The Life of a Honey Bee

Honey bees are insects belonging to the phylum Euarthropda. They are very social creatures, meaning they live in large colonies. Honey bees do not build an external structure for their hive. They would rather inhabit  hollow spaces such as hollow trees or fallen logs. Honey bees produce their own special kind of beeswax that they can mold into honeycombs. The small hexagon shaped holes that they create are known cells. They are used for storage. The honey bees can store eggs, pollen, and honey in these holes.  The wax they produce comes from the abdominal glands of worker honey bees. The worker bees retrieve some wax from their abdominal glands and proceed to chew it until it becomes soft. From there, the worker bees can mold the wax to form each individual cell.

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“Inside the Bee Hive” by Jean Beaufort under CC by 2.0

 

Types of Honey Bees

The most common type of honey bee is the worker bee. They make up 99% of the bee colony. Worker bees are all female and they are responsible for almost every task in the hive. They collect food, tend to larvae, building the hive, etc. The stinger of the female worker bee is barbed. This means that when the worker bee stings, its stinger will detach from her body and she will die.

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Apis mellifera carnica worker hive entrance” by Richard Bartz  under CC by 2.o

Drone bees are the second most common bees in the hive. Drone bees are actually male bees. There are actually not that many drone bees in a single colony, but their only job is to mate with the single queen bee.

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“Drone bee”  by Epgui under CC by 2.o

Last but not least, there is only one queen bee in a hive. She is the only female that is capable of laying eggs. The queen bee has a larger abdomen and smaller wings than the rest of the bees in the hive. Shortly after a queen bee is born she will mate with 15 or more drones within a three day period. She will then return to the hive to lay her eggs. .  When these eggs hatch they become larvae. The male worker bees tend to these larvae, feeding them and caring for them until they reach adulthood. Adult male bees only serve one purpose, to fertilize eggs. Shortly after their job is done the male bees die.

Bees, Queen, Honeycomb

“Honeycomb queen bees”  by Max Pixel under CC by 2.o

Honey Bee Anatomy

The body of a honey bee is divided into three different sections, the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. The head of the bee has the eyes, the antennae, and the mandibles. Attached to the thorax are the legs and the wings. The abdomen contains the stinger, the abdominal glands, and the reproductive system.

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“Honey Bee Anatomy” by WikipedianProlific  under CC by 2.o 

The honey bee has wings that are able to carry it up to 15 miles per hour. Their wings can be differentiated into two separate pairs. The fore wings are the larger pair while the hind wings are the smaller pair. The honey bee is able to gain speed by using the muscles located in the thorax allowing it to flap its wings very quickly. It can travel up to 3 miles away from the hive at a time.

 

Why are honey bees so important?

For one thing honey bees and all bees in general provide us with all the delicious honey that we use in our food, but they also are very important for pollination. Pollination is the transfer of pollin grains from one plant to another. Bees are the most important insects known for pollination for many different reasons. They have tiny hairs covering their bodies that carry the pollin from flower to flower. The shape of their bodies allows them to easily pollinate plants of many different shapes and sizes. Bees also need a lot of nectar in order to produce their young, so they must gather pollin very often. In dong this they are able to focus on one species of plant at a time, serving as great pollinators for the season. Bees also tend to build nests where their is access to an abundance of blooming plants nearby. Without bees agriculture would be a huge struggle. While there are other insect species that pollinate plants, bees are by far the biggest contributors.

plant photography flower petal fly honey pollen pollination insect macro yellow flora fauna invertebrate close up bee bumblebee nectar flight insect macro photography honey bee pollinator plant stem membrane winged insect european honey bee

No title by no author under CC by 2.o

There are so many great heath benefits to beeswax and honey. Without honey bees we would not have these amazing products. The honey that they produce can be used as a natural sweetener and it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to relieve a sore throat. Honey can also be used as an antibiotic. It has anti-bacterial properties that can be used to disinfect cuts and other external wounds. Beeswax is primarily used in hydrating body products. It is has great moisturizing properties and we use it very often in lip balms and chapsticks. It incredible how much we depend on honey bees for a number of different things.

Beekeeping, Hive, Honey

“Beekeeping Honey Hive” by Max Pixel under CC by 2.o 

Honey bees live an interesting and organized life. Maintaining the hive is very hard work and the worker bees must work day in and day out to keep things going. I couldn’t imagine living the life of a honey bee. Every bee has their own job and set of responsibilities. Needless to say being a honey be is not easy.

 

 

 

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