Honey Bees are called social animals because they live in colonies and rely on each other. Not all bees are social bees. Some are solitary. Honey bees have a division of labor among the various “kinds” of bees in the colony. A colony can include a queen, drones and workers bees.
The Queen: Is the only bee in the hive that is sexually developed. She is the largest, and can be recognized by here elongated abdomen. The worker bee select which eggs will become queens. Once a queen is born, she goes on a mating flight and drone bees fertilize her. This fertilization flight can last her entire lifespan. She lives longer than all the bees in the hive. Some say she can live years and years, but she is most productive the first two years or so.
The Drones: Are the male bees in the hive. Their job is only to mate with a queen (and not usually the one in their hive). They do not collect food or pollen, they do not tend the babies. In the winter time, they are often kicked out of the hive because resources are scarce. Harsh!
The Workers: Although they are the smallest, worker bees are the mightiest bees in the colony. They are all girls! In a colony there could be as many as 50,000 to 60,000 bees! Worker bees pretty much work themselves to death. In the beginning of their lives they are nurse bees, then they graduate to field and scout bees. They also protect the hive and make comb. They are very busy, and live only about a month or less. In the winter, they can live longer.
- Bees can flap their wings as fast as 11,000 times per second.
- They flap their wings to do a lot of things, but one reason is to heat and cool the hive at all times. The worker bees keep the hive at a steady temperature all year round with their wing flaps.
- They would like it to be 92-93 degrees — which is pretty warm.
- Honey bees fly in a radius of about 3-5 miles from their homes to forage for flowers and food.
- Bees gather both nectar and pollen from flowers and trees.
- Nectar: Honey is actually like bee throw-up!!! They bring the nectar back to the hive and regurgitate the nectar into a honey cell. Then through flapping their wings (again!), the bees evaporate some of the liquid in the nectar throw-up until it is honey. Then they seal it for later use.
- Pollen: Bees use pollen, which is really sticky, and combine it with nectar to make bee bread. They feed this to the baby bees, which are also called brood.
- Bees have a lot of hairs — everywhere — even on their eyes! People think this helps them to be really good at collecting pollen which they then move into their pollen baskets on the back of their legs and take home.
- Bees see color and they use their eyesight to see flowers. Bees can see colors that we cannot see — in the ultra-violet rage. Some flowers even have “runways” that are colored maps showing the bees where to land. We people cannot see these markings on the flowers, but the bees can.
- Bees preform an essential act by moving pollen and nectar from one flower to another. They pollinate the flowers and trees which allows fruits and vegetables to be created and to grow.
- The honey bees that we are used to talking about fly in the daytime and not at night. Africanized bees can fly with moonlight though.
- A hive can make 50-200 pounds of honey a year, and it takes over 150 trips to a flower or tree to make just one teaspoon of honey.