The Complex Nature Of A Beehive

Beehive undeath a home's roof

A beehive is a structure that honey bees (genus Apis) use to reside and raise their young. Honey bee colonies create natural beehives (or “nests”), whereas domesticated honey bees are kept in man-made beehives in an apiary. The term “beehive” is primarily used to refer to beehives created by people.

Do All Bees Live In Hives?

Social bees (honey bees) are the only type of bees that live in hives and account for 10% of all bee species. That means the other 90% of bee species don’t live in hives. They actually live underground. For example, bumblebees build underground burrows that they use for mating and nectar storage. Carpenter bees will tunnel into wood to construct their tunnel-based nests.

Hive Construction

Image of honey bee leaving hiveHives are constructed by worker bees using beeswax. Eight wax-producing glands produce beeswax on the abdomen or belly of honeybees. They consume a small amount of their own honey before converting it to wax using the honey’s sugar content. They use their feet to collect or scrape the wax from their bellies, chew it up a little, and then construct flawless hexagon cells, all with their little feet. They produce sheet after sheet with an exact 1/4′′ spacing between them. They can then go between the hives and respond to their requirements. The spacing also aids in maintaining a consistent temperature.

The hexagon cells provide the most basic function: storing their prized assets, such as brood (growing babies), honey (their nourishment), and pollen (their nutrition).

Where Do Honey Bees Build Hives?

Wild honey bees build hives in rock crevices, hollow trees, attics, garages, and other locations deemed suitable for their colony by scout bees. Scout bees will leave the swarm to search for a suitable home. They build hives by eating wax until it becomes soft, then gluing enormous amounts of wax into the cells of a honeycomb, similar to farmed honey bees. When worker bees congregate in a hive, the hive maintains a 30 to 35 degrees Celsius temperature, which is required to manage the wax texture.

How Many Bees Live In A Hive?

Photo of massive beehiveA single beehive can contain up to 80,000 members, including male drones, female workers, and a single queen bee. There are also developing eggs, larvae, and pupae in each honey bee colony.

Seasonal fluctuations have a significant impact on the number of individuals in a honey bee colony. When workers seek food, store honey for the winter, and build combs during the busy season, a colony could have up to 80,000 members. During the colder seasons, however, its population will drastically decline.

Because each caste of bees performs specialized responsibilities, honey bee colonies rely on population variety to survive. While queens are powerful within their societies, they cannot form new colonies without the assistance of drones and workers, who contribute fertilizer, food, and wax for the hive’s construction. 1Go To Source fda.gov -“Helping Agriculture’s Helpful Honey Bees”

Who Rules The Hive?

The queen is like a deity in that her entire existence is dedicated to selfless service as the hive’s reproductive center. The queen is at the top of the honey bee social structure She lays all of the eggs and only leaves the hive to mate once in her life. It takes a lot of luck to become the queen bee. Queens can only become queens because they were laid in cells designed explicitly for raising queens when they were eggs.

Then they’re fed more “royal jelly” (which contains more honey and pollen than the “larval jelly” ingested by workers and drones), which allows them to grow bigger than other female bees. The hive becomes chaotic without a queen. Worker bees forage for pollen and nectar less frequently, and when they do, they bring back less nectar and pollen to the hive. Worker bees identify queen cells and raise new virgin queens when the queen dies (or if her egg production stops). 2Go To Source canr.udel.edu -“The Colony And It’s Organization”

Need Help Removing A Bee Hive?

Attempting to remove a beehive on your own can be quite a dangerous task. One false step and the bees begin to protect their queen by stinging you. Unless you’re an experienced beekeeper, we highly recommend that you contact a humane bee removal professional to handle hive relocation.

Local bee control companies have the safety equipment and knowledge necessary for safe bee removal. Contact us today to get into contact with a local beekeeper that will safely remove any sized beehive from your property.

 

Sources:

  1. Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Helping Agriculture’s Helpful Honey Bees.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 30 July 2018, www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/helping-agricultures-helpful-honey-bees.
  2. “The Colony and Its Organization.” Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium, 11 May 2010, canr.udel.edu/maarec/honey-bee-biology/the-colony-and-its-organization/#:%7E:text=Honey%20bees%20are%20social%20insects,%2C%20well%2Dorganized%20family%20groups.&text=A%20honey%20bee%20colony%20typically,food%20collection%2C%20and%20brood%20rearing.
  3. University of Florida – Apis Cerana – http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/bees/Apis_cerana.htm
  4. University of Florida – Apis Mellifera – http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/BEES/euro_honey_bee.htm
  5. “Chapter 10 – Honey” (PDF). fs.fed.us. USDA. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  6. Honeybees of the genus Apis. Archived 2014-11-29 at the Wayback Machine Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Retrieved 4 August 2021
  7. Seeley, T. D.; Morse, R. A. (December 1978). “Nest site selection by the honey bee, Apis mellifera”. Insectes Sociaux. 25 (4): 323–37. doi:10.1007/BF02224297. S2CID 45528303. Retrieved 4 August 2021
  8. Seeley, T. D.; Morse, R. A. (December 1976). “The nest of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.)”. Insectes Sociaux. 23 (4): 495–512. Retrieved 4 August 2021