Frequently Asked Questions European (common) Honey Bee
Everyone at one time or another has seen bees flying from flower to flower, but many people know very little about these fascinating little things. We have taken some questions that we are frequently asked and also added some that may be of interest about bees. We hope this will help explain phrases like “busy as a bee” and “hive mentality” and will demonstrate the importance of bees to the Earth’s ecosystem.
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Why are Honey Bees So Fascinating?
Bee are one of the most fascinating creatures because they play a very important role in our day to day lively hood. Bees are responsible for pollinating the fruits and vegetables that humans and other animals depend upon for consumption. Bees are incredibly industrious and they work non-stop to preserve their hive and produce honey.
How Many Species of Honey Bees are There?
According to taxonomy, the scientific classification of all life into hierarchical charts, bees belong to the family “Apidae.” There are about 4,000 genera and about 25,000 species of bees. There are seven species of honey bee. The most common honey bee is apis mellifera. Only honey bees make true honey. Bumble bees, carpenter bees, and other types of bees do not make honey, although they may store some nectar as a food reserve. (UF IFAS)
Where do Honey Bees Live?
Honey bees originated in South Asia where the climate was tropical and warm. They eventually migrated to Europe where they were brought to the western hemisphere by European colonists. Honey bees can be found all over the world except within the areas that are extremely cold year round. Bees prefer warmer temperate or a tropical climate where plants are always blooming and are plentiful. Bees can be found almost anywhere, they will make a hive in a hollow tree, an opening in the block wall or soffit of your home, a vacated bird feeder, abandoned toys in the yard, you name it. If they feel it is a safe place that is out of harms way they will take it over and start their hiving process.
How Many Honey Bees Live in a Hive?
On average a hive can have 15,000 to 50,000 bees. Some hives have been known to reach 80,000 or more.
What is the Life Cycle of a Honey Bee?
Honey bees are holometabulous insects. They undergo complete metamorphosis, passing through egg, larval, and pupa (cocoon) stages before emerging from the pupa as an adult bee. Bees in the pre-adult stage are known as the brood. The brood and the newly born adults are tended to and fed by bees specialized for this task.
What is a Queen Bee?
The queen bee is known as the mother of the hive. She only mates once in her lifetime and is larger than the other bees. Upon the queens first flight out, she stores enough sperm from the 10 to 15 drones who mate with her for a life-time of egg laying. The only duty of the queen bee is to lay about 1,500 eggs a day. All the other bees tend to her needs.Within a hive there will be several queen bees that hatch at one time. They hatch as queens because they have been fed a protein-rich secretion from glands on the heads of young bees known as royal jelly. The newly hatched queens will fight until only one remains. A hive can have only one queen.
What are Worker Bees?
Worker bees are female bees that are smaller than the queen bee and are born from fertilized eggs. Workers bees have two main jobs: The first half of their life they are known as “hive bees” which mean they tend to the queen and brood and also work the hive; making the honeycombs and honey. They also defend the hive. During the second half of their lives, they become “field bees” and go out and collect nectar and pollen from flowers.
What are Drones?
Drones are male bees hatched from unfertilized eggs. The purpose of the drone bee is to hope to be one of the few drones that get to fertilize the queen. There are only a couple hundred of them per hive and if food is short, the worker bees will evict them from the hive.
How Long Do Honey Bees Live?
Queen Bee 3-4Years
Worker Bee 6-7 Weeks
Drone Bee 4weeks-4months Unless it mates with the queen and then it dies immediately after doing so.
What should I do if I see a swarm or colony of bees?
First, do not disturb the bees. If you disturb them they will become agitated and this is when you will get stung. Swarms will usually docile while they’re looking for a new place to hive, but there are instances where the swarm has found it’s site and the bees you see on the surface are concealing other bees actively constructing honeycomb and establishing a new home. An untrained individual should never try to remove the hive of bees. It is always best to call a licensed professional to handle the removal of a bee hive.
How Much Honey Does a Hive Produce?
A typical healthy hive will produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey in a years time. Bees only need about 25 pounds of this honey for their own food so the rest can be harvested by a bee keeper.
Do Honey Bees Sting?
Absolutely, worker bees sting, and the sting can be painful. Once the bee has stung she will die shortly there after. Drone bees do not have stingers, however the Queen bee does and sting multiple times. Although you should not worry about this as queen bees rarely leave the hive. If you are stung, use a fingernail or the edge of a credit card to scrape the stinger out. Do not try to squeeze or push it out, this will cause more venom from the venom pouch to be released into the skin.
What is Colony Collapse Disorder?
In 2006, beekeepers in North America began to notice the disappearance of entire colonies of bees. This sudden disappearance of bee colonies became known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The cause is unknown, although there are many theories. Some commonly suspected causes are climate change, pesticide and herbicide use, parasites, pathogens, environmental toxins, genetically modified crops, and even electro-magnetic radiation (from cell phones).
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