Honey Bee, Apis mellifera

Honey Bee, Apis mellifera All honey bees are social and cooperative insects. A hive's inhabitants are generally divided into three types.

Workers are the only bees that most people ever see. These bees are females that are not sexually developed. Workers forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, clean, circulate air by beating their wings, and perform many other societal functions.

The queen's job is simple—laying the eggs that will spawn the hive's next generation of bees. There is usually only a single queen in a hive. If the queen dies, workers will create a new queen by feeding one of the worker females a special diet of a food called "royal jelly." This elixir enables the worker to develop into a fertile queen.

Male bees are called drones—the third class of honeybee. Several hundred drones live in each hive during the spring and summer, but they are expelled for the winter months when the hive goes into a lean survival mode.

Bees live on stored honey and pollen all winter, and cluster into a ball to conserve warmth.

Habitat: Woodland, gardens and orchards
Development: Complete metamorphosis
Food: Herbivore
Flight Period: Spring - Fall
Description: Orange and brown-colored, rather hairy. The abdomen is black with orange transverse stripes of varying width.
Length: 0.47 to 0.79 inches
Wingspan: 1 inch
Drone Honey Bee

Drones: Agony & Ectasy

Drones do little around the hive, they don't clean or build honey combs and they help themselves to nectar stores. Yet they don’t do much to help out with the kids. Heck, they don’t even go out and get food for the colony!

Bee Quiz Graphic

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Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about Bumble Bees—our favorite essential pollinators working around the world. This quiz is intended for fun, in a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.

Reading a brood frame

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