Honey Bee: Apis Mellifera

Picture of honey bee colony

Description Of Honey Bees

Apis mellifera is typically red/brown, with black bands and orange/yellow rings on the abdomen. They have hair on their thorax but not on their abdomen. On their hind legs, they also have a pollen basket. The legs of honeybees are mostly dark brown/black.

Females are divided into two castes: sterile workers (adults 10-15 mm long) and fertile queens (adults 15-20 mm long) (18-20 mm). At maturity, males, known as drones, are 15-17 mm long. Workers have longer wings than drones, despite their smaller size.

Females of both castes have a stinger made of modified ovipositor structures. When used by workers, the sting is barbed and tears away from the body. The stinger is supplied with venom from glands in the abdomen in both castes. Males have much larger eyes than females, which is likely to aid in detecting flying queens during mating flights. 1Go To Source biokids.umich.edu -“Honey bee Apis mellifera”

Honey Bee Species

Image of European honey bee

There are currently 26 recognized subspecies of Honey Bee, with morphological and molecular differences separating them. The differences between the subspecies are usually discussed in terms of their agricultural output in different environments.

Some subspecies can adapt to warmer or colder climates. Defensive behavior, tongue length, wingspan, and coloration may also differ between subspecies. Abdominal banding patterns vary, with some being darker and others having a mix of darker and lighter banding patterns.

Honey Bee Behavior

Honey bee hives require regular maintenance to produce a healthy and productive brood. The worker bee caste is in charge of honey bee hive construction and maintenance. Excess food energy in the bodies of young adult honey bees is converted to wax production rather than fat production. Propolis is collected from tree buds by worker bees and used as caulking to seal cracks and leaks around the hive.

The colony’s temperature must be reduced during hot summer days, or the wax will melt. The bees will suffer, so they collect water and spread it on the nest’s interior while fanning their wings, causing evaporative cooling. Adult bees clean cells (house bees), circulate air with their wings, feed larvae, practice flying, receive pollen and nectar from foragers, guard hive entrance, and eventually move out of the hive and forage in this order as they grow older. 2 Go To Source ucanr.edu -“Bee Biology and Behavior”

Life Cycle Of Honey Bees

Photo of honey bee eating nectar

Although worker bees are all female, they are usually sterile. The eggs are laid by the queen, and they hatch after three days. For two and a half days, the worker larvae are fed royal jelly, pollen, and honey for another two and a half days. They are then sealed in their cells for 12 days, during which time they spin a cocoon and mature into adults. It takes a total of 20 days to complete the process.

Worker bees mature five days later than queen bees but live for a shorter time. Adults of honey bees live for five to six weeks in the summer on average. Workers may live up to six months during the winter months to help the hive survive the cold and raise new workers for the spring and summer.

If the conditions are right, all worker bee larvae can develop into queen bees within the first 48 hours of their lives, and the larvae are fed royal jelly throughout their five-day growth period rather than honey pollen.

Worker bees can develop reproductive organs to lay emergency queens in certain situations, such as the queen bee’s untimely death or absence from the hive. These queens are usually weaker and smaller than the ones laid by the queen bee before she dies. In situations where more drones are required, workers can also lay eggs, though the new drones will not be as large or strong as those laid by the queen. They are known as laying workers in this situation.

Honey Bee Social Structure

A caste system organizes social bee species. The queen bee runs the hive, and she’s in charge of the colony’s egg production. Then there’ll be drones: These male bees are present from late spring to early summer in order to mate with the queen. Female worker bees are the smallest bees in the hive and are all female. They make up the hive’s most prominent group and are in charge of keeping it running smoothly.

Habitat Of Honey Bees

Honey bees build their nests in large hollows called cavities. Trees, logs, and rocky cliffs may all have cavities suitable for hive construction. Vertical rows of wax comb are suspended inside such a cavity. In these wax combs, the queen bee lays eggs, and worker bees store pollen and honey.

Honey Bee Diet

Photograph of honey bees building honey hive

Honey bees require two types of food to survive, both of which are found in plants. Nectar and pollen are the two foods.

Nectar is a liquid solution of sugar and water that will eventually be converted into honey. Honey bees eat nectar, which is a carbohydrate. Because bees convert sugar into energy, nectar is necessary for flying, ventilating the hive, and constructing combs.

Pollen is the bees’ primary protein source and a source of fats, minerals, and vitamins. It is necessary for the development of young bees and the production of broods.

Predators Of The Honey Bee

Skunks, bears, and hive beetles are the most common predators of honey bees. Skunks are insectivores, which means that once they find a hive, they will often return every night to attack it and eat many bees. Honey bee remains outside the hive entrance are a good indicator of skunk raids, as skunks chew the bees to extract their juices. While raccoons and opossums are less likely to prey on honey bees, they do occasionally attack hives in the same way.

Damage Caused By Honey Bee Hives

Walls, chimneys, and roofs can all be harmed by the weight of a bee colony. Melting wax, honey, and waste products can push their way through walls as hives expand, causing damage to wallpapered and painted surfaces. Beehives produce an intoxicating odor that attracts rodents and insects, as well as other nuisance wildlife species. When a nest becomes overcrowded, the bees split up and relocate to the nearest available location. Honeybees can fill cavities from the ceiling to the floor and between wall studs if left unattended.

Honey Bee Removal & Relocation

A professional Bee control company should be hired to collect a swarm or manage a honey bee colony in a building. They have the necessary equipment and skills to complete the task. Those inexperienced in bee relocation should leave the removal process to the professionals to ensure their safety.

Look for a company that has experience with honey bee nest removal and relocation. Failure to remove a honey bee nest from a structure can result in significant problems down the road. The larger the nest, the more odor from dead bees and fermenting honey, staining, and other pests like ants, cockroaches, carpet beetles, wax moths, and rodents you may encounter. Bees are attracted to traces of old comb, and unless the nest is removed, they will re-infest the structure. 3 Go To Source agrilifeextension.tamu.edu -“Honey Bees In and Around Buildings”

 

 

Sources:

  1. Hammond, G. and M. Blankenship 2009. “Apis mellifera” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 15, 2021 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Apis_mellifera/
  2. University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Bee Biology and Behavior.” © 2021 Regents of the University of California, ucanr.edu/sites/sandiegobees/About/Biology. Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.
  3. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “Honey Bees In and Around Buildings – Are Honey Bees Harmful?” Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, 4 Mar. 2019, agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/insects/honey-bees-in-and-around-buildings.