Flowers as Food, A Guide to Honey Bees

Honey bees are insects that play an important role in the world. They provide humans with things such as beeswax and honey, which has led to a big beekeeping industry. There are many different species of honey bee that can be found in the wild. Honey bees are generally about ┬ż inch long, and are black or reddish brown with yellow to orange colored rings on their abdomen. Their legs, head, and antennae are black and they have thick hair coating their thorax. Honey bees are essential in nature as they pollinate many different species of flowers and other plants.

Honey Bee Hives & Queen Bees

Honey bees live in a hive, which is a type of nest. A single hive can actually house tens of thousands of bees, most of which are workers. Honey bee hives are commonly found in hollow trees and other such spaces. A honey bee hive is always ruled over by the largest female bee in the hive, known as the queen bee. The queen bee is the only female who will mate and males can be found hanging around the queen with the sole purpose of mating. Once the male has mated with the queen, they die. The worker bees are the ones that perform all of the work both inside and outside of the hive. They have multiple jobs including making wax, cleaning the hive, caring for the baby bees, building honeycomb, making honey, and storing pollen. The worker bees are also tasked with collecting nectar and pollen as well as protecting and guarding the hive.

The honeycomb made by worker bees consists of multiple layers of wax cells that have a hexagonal shape. The queen bee will lay her eggs in these cells, or little rooms, and this is where honey bee larvae (babies), hatch. Once hatched, the honey bee larvae will create a cocoon out of their cells and will emerge as adult bees. Honey bee larvae will turn out to be either workers, males or new queens, and this is all dependent on the age of the hive and the time of year in which the larvae hatch. After a queen makes new queens, she will then leave the nest along with some of the worker bees, and they will start a new hive. The first new queen to take over will kill all of the others, and will the become queen of the hive.

Larvae will eat honey while adult bees will eat pollen and nectar from flowers. Pollen is a powdery substance that needs to be transferred from one flower to another in order to create more flowers. Nectar is the liquid within the center of a flower. The queen bee in the hive will eat a paste like substance called royal jelly, that is made by the worker bees.

Honey Bee Products

The two main products that come from honey bees are honey and beeswax. Honey bees will visit many different types of flowers such as fruit trees, dandelions, and more to make honey. Once the worker bees arrive at a flower, they will drink as much nectar as they can hold. When they go back to the hive, they will then pass the nectar to another worker bee. This bee will hold the nectar on their tongue, until all the water evaporates, and the bee is left with honey. The honey is then stored in the hive. In the winter months, when there is no food available, bees will eat their stores of honey. Beeswax is a product that is secreted from glands found on the abdomens of worker bees that are of a certain age. While the bees will use this wax to form the walls of their honey combs, humans will gather the wax and use it for many different purposes.

Interaction With Humans

Honey bees will normally leave people alone however they are attracted to certain hair sprays, soaps, and perfumes. Worker bees are equipped with a sharp stinger that has a barb on the end of it. The stinger is attached to a gland in the abdomen that secretes venom. Honey bees will normally only sting if they, or their hive are in danger. If a honey bee stings a human, the barb will normally become caught and tear out of the abdomen of the bee along with the poison gland, killing the insect. The venom is what causes a bee sting to hurt. There is a small muscle attached to the venom gland of the bee and it will continue to pump venom into a wound even once the bee is gone. For most, bee stings are not dangerous, but some people have severe allergies that put them at greater risk.

Ultimately, bees are incredibly important insects with imperative jobs. In order for plants to thrive, and continue reproducing, bees are needed. To learn more about honey bees, consult the following resources.

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