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The most important bee is the honeybee, the type raised by man. Learning about honeybees will assist students in a better understanding and importance of the bee and how we as individuals can be helpful.

Honeybees are social insects that live in hives.  They are insects that feed on pollen and nectar gathered from plants blossoms.  Bees carry pollen (yellow dust containing a flower’s male germ cells) from blossom to blossom.  This enables flowering plants to produce seeds.  There are three types of Honeybees:


The Queen

One queen bee is mother of all within the hive.  The job for her is of laying eggs.  In the summer, a queen may lay up to 2000 eggs a day.  Queens are created when worker bees transfer larvae into peanut shaped cells.  The larvae develop into queens because they are feed a special food called “royal jelly”.  A queen may live up to five years.





Workers are female bees.  Worker bees perform all the duties required to maintain the hive.  This includes feeding the queen and her larvae repairing the hive and defending against predators.  Life span is about six weeks.



Drone is the male bees.  They make up only a small portion of the population. They are squat, with large eyes and wider than the worker bees. Usually a drone develops from an unfertilized egg.  Drones have no father!  The drone is not equipped for gathering food or doing any of the work of the hive.  In the fall when food becomes scarce drones are forced out of the hive.  Lifespan of a drone is about four weeks.





Bees dance to announce a food source.  This “dance” tells the direction, distance, and quality of the nectar or pollen.  The returning bee vibrates her wings and regurgitates taste samples. She dances excitedly in a circle if the food is nearby; in a figure-eight   “woggle dance” if the food is more than 100 yards away.


Honey bees are special.  The colony stays active and clusters together to stay warm.  This requires a lot of food stored from the summer before honey.  A hive needs only 20-30 lbs of honey to survive an average winter.  One hive can produce 60 lbs of honey in a good season.


Nectar from several different types of flowers, serve as the bee’s source of energy, and the pollen is utilized as a source of protein.  The larvae are fed with bee’s milk, a derivative of a gland of young adult worker bees.


The honeybee colony is made up of a system of castes where there is a queen, the only sexually mature female; a few hundred drones.



The honey bee is extremely important to farmers in maintaining natural vegetation.  This is because they transfer pollen between flowers (which helps fertilize them) in the process of collecting pollen and nectar.  Humans also utilize some of their products, such as honey; wax sometimes royal jelly (the food given to the queen bee when she is in the larval stage).  Even their venom is sometimes used: there is some evidence that it can help cure or alleviate certain forms of arthritis.


When introduced may cause the extinction of native species of bees.


A beekeeping establishment is called an apiary.  Each colony within an apiary lives in a container called a hive. A modern hive is generally a tightly closed box with a small entrance for the bees.



www.kohaia net/bees

By: Dorothy Jenkins

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