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Honey bee

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Quick Facts

Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar they collect from flowering trees and plants. Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. They store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive.

There are many types, colors and flavors of honey, depending upon its nectar source. Honey is an easily digestible, pure food. Honey is hydroscopic and has antibacterial qualities. Eating local honey can fend off native allergies.

  • Beeswax : Secreted from glands, beeswax is used by the honeybee to build honey comb. It is used by humans in drugs, cosmetics, artists’ materials, furniture polish and candles.
  • Propolis: Collected by honeybees from trees, the sticky resin is mixed with wax to make a sticky glue. The bees use this to seal cracks and repair their hive. It is used by humans as a health aid, and as the basis for fine wood varnishes.
  • Royal Jelly: The powerful, milky substance that turns an ordinary bee into a Queen Bee. It is made of digested pollen and honey or nectar mixed with a chemical secreted from a gland in a nursing bee’s head. It commands premium prices rivaling imported caviar, and is used by some as a dietary supplement and fertility stimulant. It is loaded with all of the B vitamins.
  • Bee Venom: The “ouch” part of the honeybee. Although sharp pain and some swelling and itching are natural reactions to a honeybee sting, a small percentage of individuals are highly allergic to bee venom. “Bee venom therapy” is widely practiced overseas and by some in the USA to address health problems such as arthritis, neuralgia, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.


Three Casts of Honey Bee

Queen Bee : There is only one queen per hive. The queen is the only bee with fully developed ovaries. A queen bee can live for 3-5 years. The queen mates only once with several male (drone) bees, and will remain fertile for life. She lays up to 2000 eggs per day. Fertilized eggs become female (worker bees) and unfertilized eggs become male (drone bees). When she dies or becomes unproductive, the other bees will “make” a new queen by selecting a young larva and feeding it a diet of “royal jelly”. For queen bees, it takes 16 days from egg to emergence.

Worker Bee : All worker bees are female, but they are not able to reproduce. Worker bees live for 4-9 months during the winter season, but only 6 weeks during the busy summer months (they literally work themselves to death). Nearly all of the bees in a hive are worker bees. A hive consists of 20,000 – 30,000 bees in the winter, and over 60,000 – 80,000 bees in the summer. The worker bees sequentially take on a series of specific chores during their lifetime: housekeeper; nursemaid; construction worker; grocer; undertaker; guard; and finally, after 21 days they become a forager collecting pollen and nectar. For worker bees, it takes 21 days from egg to emergence. The worker bee has a barbed stinger that results in her death following stinging, therefore, she can only sting once.

Drone Bee : These male bees are kept on standby during the summer for mating with a virgin queen. Because the drone has a barbed sex organ, mating is followed by death of the drone. There are only 300-3000 drones in a hive. The drone does not have a stinger. Because they are of no use in the winter, drones are expelled from the hive in the autumn.


Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Apidae
  • Subfamily: Apinae
  • Tribe: Apini
  • Latreille, 1802
  • Genus: Apis
  • Linnaeus, 1758



 

Type Egg Larva Cell capped Pupa Average Developmental Period(Days until emergence) Start of Fertility Body Length Hatching Weight
Queen up to Day 3 up to Day 8½ Day 7½ Day 8 until emergence 16 days Day 23 and up 18–22 mm nearly 200 mg
Worker up to Day 3 up to Day 9 Day 9 Day 10 until emergence (Day 11 or 12 last moult) 21 days(range: 18–22 days) N/A 12–15 mm nearly 100 mg
Drone up to Day 3 up to Day 9½ Day 10 Day 10 until emergence 24 days approx. 38 days 15–17 mm nearly 200 mg


Reference(s)
1. Backyard Beekeepers Association
2. Wikipedia

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